IT has been said that getting threatened by North Korea is like walking through a car park and getting barked at by a Chihuahua locked in a Mini.
But it would appear that the days of not taking their wild threats seriously are gone after America revealed that the increasingly hysterical North Korea has the capability to launch nuclear-armed missiles. Let’s put that in perspective.
North Korea has already held several nuclear tests with evidence that the devices used were between about one third and a half the yield of the bomb used on Hiroshima in 1945.
No one should underestimate the damage that such an NK device could achieve if it exploded in Japan, Hawaii or Alaska, but it pales into insignificance when stacked up against Russia’s 1961 nuclear test which was nearly 10,000 times more powerful, the largest thermonuclear weapon ever tested.
Even tests by India and Pakistan in more modern times have been up to ten times more powerful than North Korea’s efforts so far.
The problem for the world is not that North Korea’s nuclear threat is insignificant but that it has a nuclear weapon potential and is threatening to use it.
All it will take is just one small mistake, one small error, one small misunderstanding – such as the joke about NK leader Kim Jong-un telling a general “I said lunch, not launch!” – and humanity will be counting the cost for centuries.
His father, Kim Jong II, was publicly portrayed by the state’s media to be a man who didn’t need to defecate and who once shot 38 for a round of golf, a world record with 11 holes in one, although such an improbable sporting achievement while full of ordure at the time may mean both are linked!
Whatever the sins of the father, the son seems hell-bent – perhaps an unfortunate choice of words – on carving himself out a reputation as a leader.
What seems to have escaped NK’s attention is that, if he turns warlike rhetoric into warlike actions, he could soon be leader of a very large area of carbon.
South Korea, Japan and America are already taking precautions and, while diplomacy is their public choice of action, I’d be surprised if contingency plans are not in place to retaliate and retaliate spectacularly if North Korea is ever unwise enough to actually launch a weapon.
So what is Kim Jong-un’s game plan? Why is he risking his entire country for the sake of what seems to be a futile bit of sabre rattling?
The answer lies apparently not in the UN courts but the basketball courts because Kim Jong-un is known as a fanatical fan of the sport, particularly player Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers.
Apparently the Lakers somehow doubted Kim Jong-un’s claim to regularly score 100 baskets a game and refused to offer him a lucrative contract including one of those nice free pencils with a Tryton the Laker King rubber on the end.
The backlash from the infuriated NK leader has seen him mobilise his entire country – ranked a terrifying 29th in the world in global firepower terms behind Ethiopia – so we’ll have to wait and see if he is rabid enough to push the button.
I was recently amused by a friend telling me about his efforts to help a schoolboy with his homework about the Second World War.
My friend was stunned when the boy asked if the famous 1,000-bomber raids on Germany had used nuclear bombs or just ordinary ones.
As he told me: “Christ! If they’d used nuclear bombs you’d still be able to see the glow at night now!”
All joking aside, any conflict is a serious matter and the possibility of nuclear bombs going off is a very serious worry indeed.
As Bertrand Russell once said: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”