This is a compendium/update on North Korea from a few estimates, distilled for your consumption.
The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) posted that the revised yield estimate of 250 kilotons is derived from a seismic event which it now estimates had a magnitude of 6.1, which is an upward revision from 5.8. It wrote that “this is an estimate with some uncertainty.”
The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) also revised upward the magnitude of the seismic event to 6.1 and the estimated yield to 250 kilotons.
The US Geological Survey’s (USGS) magnitude estimate remains 6.3.
NORSAR also put the North Korean test in a historic context. “In comparison, the explosive yield of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 was estimated at approximately 15 kilotons TNT, while the bomb dropped on Nagasaki three days later was estimated at approximately 20 kilotons TNT.”
38 North Analysis
The 38 North analysts also judged that the upward revisions tended to confirm most of the claims that North Korea made about its nuclear detonation, including that it probably was a hydrogen bomb. Assuming the North Korean claims are accurate about their ability to fit this warhead to several different missiles, the North will need fewer missiles to achieve a desired level of destruction of any target.
8 North wrote that “imagery from 8 September shows a large tractor/trailer cargo truck in the South Portal Area for the first time, and mining carts and other equipment are present outside the West Portal. Such activity, coming shortly after the largest underground nuclear test conducted at Punggye-ri to date (via the North Portal), suggests that onsite work could now be changing focus to further prepare those other portals for future underground nuclear testing.”
The Norks will continue to test nuclear weapons and ballistic missile delivery systems until they’re certain that they can hit the United States with some degree of certainty. They they plan to blackmail the US with those weapons – to stand by while they invade and occupy South Korea. And they can do it despite sanctions.
Peru, Mexico and Egypt altered their diplomatic relations with North Korea as a result of the most recent nuclear test. The Hermit Kingdom is still capable of sourcing what it needs through a few friendly nations and they are said to have a vast supply of bitcoin for purchases on-line. The only way to stop all of this is a quarantine of the nation. It’s something that China and Russia are unlikely to agree to in the short term.
Peru declared the North Korean ambassador, Kim Hak-Chol, a persona non grata on 11 September to protest North Korea’s refusal to heed the world’s “constant calls” to end its nuclear program – giving him five days to leave.
“The bilateral and diplomatic measure taken yesterday by the Peruvian government lacks judicial and moral reasoning and doesn’t further world peace and security at all,” Kim said, reading from a statement at a news conference in Lima.
“To the contrary, it throws gasoline on the fire for which we express protest and regret,” Kim added before declining to take questions from reporters.
Peru’s Foreign Ministry clarified that the country had not severed relations, but had downgraded them. In the mid-1990’s Peru bought a variety of weapons from North Korea. US intervention prevented Peru from acquiring North Korean Scud ballistic missiles.
Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi announced that his country has severed military ties with North Korea. The United States denied or delayed $300 million in aid to Egypt last month due to its human rights violations and ties to North Korea. Since 1987, Egypt has received $1.3 billion annually in foreign military aid from the United States.
The North Korean liquid-fueled ballistic missile program started from Egyptian Scuds. The late President Anwar Sadat approved Scud sales between 1976 and 1981 in gratitude for North Korean support to Egypt during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Egyptian private companies have invested in North Korea. The Egyptian telecommunications company Orascom built North Korea’s closed 3G mobile phone system in 2008. North Korean ships use Port Said for delivering weapons to African states.
Until now, Egypt has refused to terminate military ties to North Korea. It has not terminated its economic contacts.
Mexico expelled the North Korean ambassador last week. “North Korea’s nuclear activity is a serious risk for international peace and security and represents a growing threat to nations in the region, including fundamental allies of Mexico like Japan and South Korea,” the Mexican government said.
Mexico is a trading partner with North Korea and an occasional source of oil imports.
North Korea has relied heavily on weapons sales for years and on imports from unlikely sources. Closure of overseas markets and termination of client and investment relationships will constrain hard currency earnings.
Japan’s TBS television reported on 11 September that Chinese banks in Dandong refuse to open new accounts or to remit funds to North Korea. Other images show North Korean workers returning to North Korea because their visas were not renewed. Other North Korean laborers with jobs in Dandong reported having difficulty getting visas renewed.
The TV report indicated that Chinese banks began freezing accounts before the new UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions. China seems to have imposed these sanctions unilaterally before the UN Security Council passed its resolution.
The TBS sample is limited to Dandong. A wider cutoff of banking facilities would have significant impact on enterprises. Ultimately, the impact will be passed along to workers in one fashion or another.