The U.S. Pacific Command reports that the missile test launched by North Korea on Saturday seems to have failed. Amid political tensions and the looming threat of a nuclear war, what exactly is the threat that comes with using nuclear weapons?
A Failed Missile Test
Just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed the United Nations about increasing pressure on North Korea on Saturday, the totalitarian state launched a test missile that seems to have failed.
The information comes courtesy of U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham. He explains that the test missile failed to launch and exploded on North Korean land.
U.S. president Donald J. Trump weighed in on the matter via Twitter, stating that the test launch was an act of defiance towards China, one of North Korea's few allies.
North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 28, 2017
Japan and South Korea were quick to condemn the missile tests, as Japan immediately held protests through diplomatic channels in Beijing.
What Is The Threat Of Nuclear Weaponry?
While North Korea's missile test evidently failed, there is no denying that tensions are high in the international scene amid the threat of a possible nuclear war. Perhaps what's concerning about the threat is that apart from the fact that nuclear weapons have serious destructive capabilities, it is also the unpredictability of both the weapons and its handlers that can spark serious concern among people.
According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organization that keeps a close watch on the nuclear situation across the globe, if a nuclear weapon is detonated in a major city, the blast center would be even hotter than the surface of the sun and over a million people could die either from the blast itself, or from fallout radiation.
Apart from the sheer mortality rate of its initial effects, communication, electricity, and transportation would likely be affected, and the residual radiation may last for months or even years.
Though it has been more than twenty years since the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons still exist with most of them in the hands of major countries: the United States, Russia, North Korea, China, the United Kingdom, India, Israel, and France. These countries have a combined 16,000 nuclear weapons in all, a number that's enough to destroy the planet multiple times.
As it stands, while the threat of a nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia has decreased, North Korea has taken Russia's place as a major nuclear power that has been experimenting with nuclear weapon capabilities. That being said, even without serious conflicts between countries, there is still the threat of accidental or unauthorized of nuclear weapons.
A Spot Of Good News
Despite the threat of nuclear conflicts, something that even physicist Stephen Hawking warns about, there is still room for hope. Though the threat is still there, there are countries that have truly committed to laying down arms and gave their weapons up.
Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus have given up their weapons, and South Africa has voluntarily dismantled their own weapons.
What's more, despite the disagreements and complications, heads-of-state are still continuous in the conversation on how to prevent nuclear terrorism.