[FOUNTAIN]Unending race for the power to destroyThe Beijing Youth Daily reported Monday that residents in Yongcheon, North Korea, told international relief workers after the explosion at a railroad station there that they thought the United States had dropped an atomic bomb. They saw a dark cloud curling up to the sky accompanied by a thunderous noise.
The testimony of the North Koreans reflects the pressure they have felt from the potential threat of war between North Korea and the United States that has haunted the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia for the last few years. Thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed in the blast, over 160 people were killed and 1,500 were injured. It was not caused by a nuclear bomb, but the damage was catastrophic. Most of the wounded are suffering from serious burns.
A large-scale nuclear explosion would be accompanied by an instant storm of extreme heat. When directly exposed to the blast, victims would suffer serious burns. In fact, a one-megaton nuclear bomb would generate heat equal to 100 million degrees centigrade, four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun. The shocking aftereffect is enough reason to link nuclear weapons to the end of mankind.
Today, there are tens of thousands of nuclear weapons on earth. In the 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union possessed a total of over 50,000 such weapons. In 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, but the nuclear inventory in 1947 was only two weapons. Only a year later, the United States had 50 bombs.
In 1952, scientists developed hydrogen bombs, whose destructive power was over 10 times that of atomic bombs. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were obsessed with an arms race and competed to conduct explosive tests, damaging the environment.
In World War II, the participants used a total of three megatons of explosives. The evil of nuclear weapons is apparent, considering that the force of each hydrogen bomb the Soviet Union tested was 60 megatons, or 20 times the total amount of bombs used in World War II. The competition to possess a more powerful and more compact nuclear weapon is never-ending. Albert Einstein said, “Physics is easier than politics.” In today’s international politics, his words still have power.
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.