Despite concerns of another missile test, North Korea marked its 69th anniversary on September 9, with a gala party for the scientists involved with carrying out the country’s most powerful nuclear test over Labor Day weekend. The test was the detonation of a hydrogen bomb that could be delivered on a missile. According to The New York Times, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un’s government called it, “a merciless sledgehammer blow to the U.S. imperialists.” This was their sixth nuclear bomb detonation.
This prompted the Trump administration to respond. Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned North Korea, “any threat to the United States or its territory, including Guam or our allies, will be met with a massive military response.” The New York Times reported that the tremors were felt through China and South Korea. Experts estimated that the blast was four to sixteen times more powerful than any the North had set off before, with far more destructive power than the bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, according to the New York Times.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration made a statement that their goal is to work together with allies to seek a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Despite warnings and statements from Seoul and Washington, Kim continues. He has conducted over 80 missile tests since taking power in 2011. The tremor from the test was followed by a second tremor, which the United States Geological Survey called a “collapse,” most likely a cave-in at the nuclear test site.
Instead of celebrating the government’s anniversary with another nuclear test, there were dance parties and art performances, with a rare appearance by the first lady of North Korea, Ri Sol-Ju, breaking traditions of former leaders not being photographed in public with their wives. The rare appearance of Ri led people to worry that she may have lost favor with Kim. This is particularly concerning given his history of having family members and other government officials killed. His uncle was executed in 2013, while his brother was killed in the Kuala Lumpar airport in Malaysia earlier this year. U.N. Experts also say Kim has been illegally exporting over $270 million in coal, iron and other commodities to China, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka this past year. Kim continues to ignore restrictions and the United Nations is currently investigating North Korean presence in Africa and the Middle East, including their involvement in “prohibited activities,” according to Fox News. Two unnamed countries intercepted shipments for Syria; the contents of these shipments have not been identified and Syria has yet to respond. The U.S. has called for new, stricter sanctions on North Korea, including banning all oil and natural gas exports to the country, and freezing all foreign financial assets of the government and Kim. According to CBS, Sept. 11 was set as the target date for the adoption of these new sanctions. This resolution is made in hopes that North Korea will feel the threat, and discontinue nuclear testing. The resolution however, requires the votes of Russia and China, both of whom have been against stricter sanctions on North Korea.
Written by Mariah Partin, Staff Writer