How much damage could Kim Jong-un do if he nukes his neighbours?
Tokyo — As US President Donald Trump threatens to destroy North Korea, even some of his closest aides have warned of the potentially disastrous effects of a war.
New research published on the 38 North website points to just how catastrophic the impact might be on the regime’s neighbours. If Kim Jong-un were to launch a nuclear attack on Seoul and Tokyo — both within striking distance of his weapons — as many as 2.1-million people could die and another 7.7-million could be injured, according to the report.
The analysis by Michael J Zagurek Jr, a consultant specialising in databases and computer modeling, is based on North Korea’s current estimated weapons technology and bomb strength. Zagurek assumes Kim has a baseline arsenal of 20 to 25 warheads and the capacity to put them on ballistic missiles.
Concerns about a nuclear conflict in North Asia have increased as Kim accelerates his programme of acquiring weapons capable of hitting the continental US, and as Trump threatens pre-emptive military action. While the chance of a direct attack on US allies Japan and South Korea remains slim, Zagurek said history was replete with miscalculation by "rational actors" during crisis situations.
Last month, North Korea’s foreign minister said the regime’s possible next steps include testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
North Korea’s older warheads have yields in the 15 kiloton to 25 kiloton range, about the size of the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. According to Zagurek, fatality estimates rise significantly if North Korea were able to strike with bombs similar to the one it tested on September 3, which had a likely yield of 108 kilotons to 205 kilotons.