The dear leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un, threatened to take out New York City with a nuclear weapon. His threat responds to a new round of sanctions imposed by the international community after Pyongyang’s most recent nuclear test. Kim might be posturing—more than a little. Still there is every reason to take seriously the chance of waking up one morning in a mushroom cloud.
One of the top analysts of the danger posed by North Korea concludes that the regime has a working long-range ballistic missile that can range U.S. territory and it is more than likely that they can top their weapon with a functioning nuclear warhead. That is not the same, however, as saying Pyongyang could hit New York with a bomb big enough to take out the city.
Still, don’t dance in the streets of Times Square. Kim Jung Un continues to press the development of the regime’s nuclear arsenal. It is only a matter of time before Kim does have a city-killing missile or the ability to destroy the U.S. nuclear grid with a EMP attack in his hands.
When North Korea gets a weapon that can take out the Big Apple, here is what the results might look like. With a low-altitude explosion with a 10-kiloton weapon “about 50 percent of the energy released by the detonation takes the form of the ‘blast,’ an enormous wave of over pressurized air caused by the nuclear explosion. Within seconds, nearly all of the buildings within a half-mile radius would be destroyed by the concussion from the initial blast. Roughly half of the population within the blast radius would die almost instantaneously from collapsing buildings. Many others, without hope of rescue or aid, would soon die from mortal injuries inflicted by the blast. The blast would turn debris from collapsing buildings into makeshift missiles, extending as far out as 3.5 miles.”
Indeed, the disaster could be even bigger. Nuclear targeting doesn’t account for the effects of “mass fire” triggered by such a blast—which might wipe out the entire city.
Just because Kim might be just bragging now, that’s no reason not to worry. Washington needs to take the nuclear threats of the 21st century with much more seriousness.