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A worse fear? A nuclear accident in North Korea, – and it could trigger a nuclear war

The nuclear accident that could be worse than a North Korean attack

But it’s not the fear of a deliberate nuclear attack that has scholars and experts in East Asia most worried, but something totally accidental.

Recent sanctions against North Korea have been designed not only to cripple the country’s economy, but to stop them gaining the equipment needed to make more nuclear weapons.

 But those same sanctions could prevent North Korea getting the supplies they need to maintain their existing nuclear facilities.

“There could be a nuclear accident, and that could be a nuclear weapon exploding and releasing radiation, or it could be the nuclear facilities breaking down and causing a Fukushima-style radiation leak,” Stephen Nagy of Tokyo’s International Christian University told

“If you think about where North Korea is, that radiation would spread into northeast China, probably go to South Korea, and it would affect parts of Japan as well.”

Most experts agree that North Korea simply wants a nuclear bomb as a deterrent to prevent other nations bombing or invading them. And the purpose of their various weapons tests is a demonstration not of what they will do, but of what they can do.

Dr Nagy said most people in Tokyo are “not so concerned about an actual attack”. “They worry about a launch over Japan, and what happens if it falls into Japan accidentally?” he said. “What happens if that weapon does carry a nuclear weapon and there’s an accident?”

It’s not an unreasonable concern, though North Korea is unlikely to do something so provocative as firing a nuclear weapon over another country.

But Pyongyang has fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, a literal shot across the bow as a sabre-rattling method.”If a launch falls down on Japan, does that mean that the United States goes to war?” Dr Nagy said. “Does that mean the nuclear fallout falls on Japan?”

Nuclear fallout can be far-reaching and devastating. The Chernobyl meltdown of 1986 spread a cloud of radiation stretching from Iran to Ireland.

North Korea is not as geographically isolated as many people think. The sprawling metropolis of Seoul has a population of 25 million and is walking distance from the border. And a serious nuclear accident in North Korea could spread radiation across the most heavily populated part of the world, with Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Vladivostok certainly within range.

As with all nuclear meltdowns, the extent of the radioactive damage is based on the strength and direction of the wind.

There are already radiation fears stemming from North Korea’s detonation site, the mountain of Punggye-ri.  Chinese scientist Wang Naiyan flagged the possibility the mountain could collapse, leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Perhaps even more concerning is the prospect of an accidental detonation of a nuclear bomb on North Korean soil.

A 250-kiloton detonation would be so broad and destructive that it would be difficult to determine the cause.

So it is entirely possible an accidental explosion would be indistinguishable from a nuclear attack from the United States, triggering a nuclear war.


September 29, 2017 - Posted by | North Korea, safety

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