How Big of a Danger is North Korea?

Nick Owens - 1T Mechanical
Posted on: September 23, 2017

Over the summer, North Korea continued with developing its nuclear weapons program by
testing mid-range ballistic missiles in an attempt to create an intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States. Recently, the nation has been condemned for firing
a missile over northern Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. But, with continuous threats of nuclear war against the
United States and President Donald Trump’s statement of “Fire and Fury,” It might be worth
understanding how dangerous North Korea is to not only the US, but also to Canada.
Initially, it is worth stating the level of technology that North Korea has. For starters, North Korea’s
nuclear weapons supply is developing, but still in the works. Experts track North Korean nuclear tests by
monitoring  and detecting unusual seismic activity in South Korea. As of now, North Korea’s weapons have grown
to be significantly larger than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of world war two, but are
still significantly smaller than those developed by both the United states and Russia. As well, weapons
must be developed before they can be miniaturised. That means that, after developing large scale
nuclear weapons, North Korea would need to develop smaller devices to be able to deliver them via
missiles. As for their mid-range ballistic missiles, North Korea does not currently have any ICBMs.
However, their missile range is ever growing. Although it is disputed how much of continental North
America can be reached by their weapons, Japan, South Korea, and United States controlled nations
such as Guam are all within the line of fire. North Korea’s weapons systems are behind, but they are also
developing.
This now begs the question of whether North Korea would strike against one of these nations, or
even the United States. The answer is, probably not. Since the era of the Cold War, the United States has
been developing missile defense systems to prevent nuclear missiles from hitting the continental US.
Some have argued that this system has not had sufficient testing, but North Korea also understands that
a nuclear strike against any nuclear armed country means a likewise retaliation. This means that, despite
advancements in their program, any hydrogen bombs being developed are likely to be used defensively,
despite claims of aggression towards other nations. This makes nuclear war between the two rather
unlikely.
Finally, there is the question of where Canada lies in this scenario. The United States is well defended
against foreign missile attacks, but some unrest arose when it was announced that the United States
was under no obligation to defend Canada in the event of a missile attack. However, under the
regulations of NATO, any member is required to regard any act of war against a participating country as
an act of war against themselves. Furthermore, despite having no nuclear weapons program, Canada
has been a participating member in NORAD since the Cold War and has been a close ally to the US
despite deciding not to be a part of their “nuclear umbrella.”
Something else to note is that North Korea also does not view Canada as an enemy nation. This may come
as a shock, due to their threats against the US. However, Canada’s reputation as a peace keeping nation
may be a reason for North Korea’s friendlier attitude.