The tiny North Korean town of Tokchon, home to just 200,000 of the country’s people, had a very bad day last year. One of NK’s repeated missile test failures struck the city and, according to recently released evidence, may have also detonated unburned fuel. It was not immediately clear whether or not the detonation spread nuclear radiation, although such an explosion certainly could have devastating consequences with only a light dose on board. The strike was obviously accidental; North Korean military leaders were most likely attempting long-range missile travel when it failed.
• Ankit Panda and David Schmerler, writers at The Diplomat, claim that a government intelligence source contains images that show clear proof of significant and sustained damage to the city. At least one building and its immediate surroundings were visibly damaged within the images.
• The failed Hwasong 12 intermediate-range ballistic missile is the same as the one repeatedly launched over Japan throughout the last year. In the case of the Tokchon strike, it reached only 70 feet of flight before coming down on top of one of the city’s larger buildings.
• The area struck in Tokchon contained a combination of industrial, agricultural, and residential buildings. Although no evidence of casualties exists at this this time, analysts state that if the missile was left unrecovered, it may detonate later, if triggered.
• NK’s failed missile strikes are extremely concerning for surrounding countries like Japan and South Korea. This event proves that the potential for extreme harm exists, even if a released missile only makes it across the border before detonating. These failed missiles can, if still loaded with fuel upon crashing, create a napalm-like fire reaction and significantly large explosion. The threat of nuclear spread in Japanese towns is especially high.
• Further complicating the issue is the fact that North Korea does not use a single launch site when testing missiles. Instead, they rely on mobile missile launchers that can be placed anywhere or moved upon detection. This makes it extremely difficult for outlying military groups (or local civilians) to track and predict attacks.
What do you think the U.S. should do about North Korea?