Although it couldn’t matter less that North Korea may or may not have exploded a nuclear bomb, it is worth reviewing the status of the nuclear world. If North Korea is a bomber, then it is either the 8th or 9th nuclear “super power”. The status of Israel is still shrouded in mystery.
In 1945, the USA let loose with a 19 kiloton blast (that is, in equivalence to TNT). 5 years later, Russia went happy with 22 kilotons. The U.K. chipped in at about the same time with 25.
Ten years later, the French revealed its 60 Ktn bomber. Of course, by that time, the U.S. had bigger and better. In ’65, China unleashed a 22er. After the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1968, India produced a mini-blast of 5 ktn. Six years ago, Pakistan pitched in with a nifty one of 13 ktn, according to observers, but Pak boasts it was 25.
And North Korea? Almost not measurable. In fact, its second blast is a matter of dispute so tough is it to get a seismic trace. The first is an unconfirmed 0.55 kiloton bomb, which is not all that different from the big bombs of WW II, not counting the nuclear ones.
Neither India, Pakistan, Israel, or North Korea is in violation of NNP because they are signatories to the Treaty. That creates a puzzle for signers. Military responses make no sense because they would be the acts of aggression. NK has not done anything. China wants to try more severe economic sanctions. Cut back on oil, fertilizer, electricity but not on food and medicine. All the latter could do would be to trigger a war. And rightly so. Better to fight back than to starve.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a good idea but the axis of evil countries – by which I mean the U.S. and its allies – refuse to join. 135 nations have ratified it and about 44 haven’t. They won’t, either. The Treaty is now 10 years old and the U.S. refuses to sign. It would rather moan and groan over North Korea not joining the NNP than be a good sport and give up the idea of testing bombs. The U.S. idea is that it is on the side of the angels and may be trusted. Most of the world agrees but Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Vietnam. Some of these nations are standard lap dogs of the U.S. but many aren’t, so that one can’t get a good read on why CTBT will never get going. There may be as many reasons for not joining as there are countries refraining from joining.