On Sunday, North Korea detonated its sixth nuclear weapon and first hydrogen bomb.
It was by far the most powerful yet, sparking a 6.3-magnitude earthquake and prompting tremors felt in China and Japan.
This, according to experts, indicates the hydrogen bomb had a 100-kiloton yield.
Like me, you probably don’t know your kiloton from your kilogram.
But here’s an analogy that will make the scale of this weapon and explosion crystal clear for everyone: that means the device was SEVEN TIMES stronger than the atomic bomb America dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
The kind of intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea deploys to carry such a bomb could technically reach the United States.
And Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at MIT, told the Washington Post that North Korea could ‘destroy the better part of a city with this yield.’
Put all these facts together, and you start to understand just how serious and potentially catastrophic this crisis has become.
No wonder then that Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned ‘any threat to the United States or its territories, or our allies, will be met with a massive military response – both effective and overwhelming.’
Nor that Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Korean peninsular was now ‘closer to war than at any time’ which would be ‘a disaster for the region and world.’
The question, once again, remains a simple yet highly complex one: what the hell do we do about this?
Nobody, least of all the US, actually wants a nuclear war.
I’m pretty certain North Korean leader Kim Jong-un doesn’t want one either.
Why would he? His whole strategy to date, like his father, has been to build a military defence so big and powerful it protects his vile regime from attack.
If Jong-un fires one bomb at the US or its allies, he would sentence himself and his country to instant annihilation.
But the world can no longer just sit back and let this crazed upstart act with such brazen and dangerous impunity given the increasing size and power of his nuclear weaponry.
What worries me most about this situation is the chance of North Korea making a horrendous mistake and accidentally provoking war with a test that goes horribly wrong.
So Jong-un must be stopped in his nuclear tracks, that much is clear.
But how, if military action is not a realistic option?
Tough new United Nations Security Council sanctions implemented last month were a good start, and it was very encouraging to see every member country signing up to them.
Unfortunately, I fear they don’t go nearly far enough.
North Korea needs to be attacked financially in a way so devastating it is rendered economically impotent, and the most lethal administer of such an attack is its biggest trading partner, China.
A staggering 90% of all North Korea’s trade is done with China.
China has thus become the great enabler of the world’s most despotic regime.
It is Chinese money that pays for much of North Korea’s military and it is therefore Chinese money that de facto fuels North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
China’s President Xi is said to be ‘considering’ various economic punishments against North Korea that go beyond the sanctions, like banning the estimated 100,000 North Korean labourers currently working overseas or cutting North Korea’s lucrative exports like textiles and clothing.
But if Xi really wants to strangle Jong-un’s nuclear aspirations then he should cut off his crude oil supply.
No modern military can function without oil; it is the very lifeblood of any armed force.
This dramatic move, which would need Russia’s assistance, would also cripple North Korea’s economy and that, over time, would inevitably end Jong Un’s regime too.
Yes it would be very tough on the people of North Korea, but they already lead very tough lives. An existence without evil Jong-un controlling their every move and thought could only be better, even if they are so brainwashed now they won’t be able to either understand or accept this concept.
Donald Trump yesterday ramped up the pressure on China by threatening to stop US trade with any country who continues doing business with North Korea.
China’s foreign ministry issued a statement branding such a move ‘unfair’.
It read: ‘We cannot accept a situation in which, on the one hand we work to resolve this issue peacefully, but on the other hand, China’s own interests are subject to sanctions and are damaged. This is neither objective, nor is it fair.’
Oh do me a bloody favour..!
What is neither objective nor fair is China’s on-going pathetically supine weakness in dealing with North Korea.
China is now the world’s second largest superpower.
That status brings with it a duty of care to the rest of the world.
The biggest threat to world peace right now is North Korea and the one country that can most effectively neutralise this threat is China.
It’s simply not good enough for President Xi to stick his head in the sand and hope it all blows over, like China has consistently done in previous North Korean crisis moments.
Xi has to flex China’s considerable economic muscle and do it now.
Kim Jong-un isn’t going to stop developing his nuclear program because nobody is actively trying to stop him.
He’s heard all the bellicose threats before and he knows nobody ever acts on them or really wants to attack him.
The world has thus conspired to embolden this nasty piece of work and make him think he’s invincible.
But he’s not invincible.
In fact, he’s very vulnerable to an economic war, one that would deprive him of the financial power to make North Korea a fully-fledged nuclear power.
It’s time China got off its rich, lazy, selfish backside when it comes to North Korea and took decisive action before it’s too late.
Right now, President Trump is not the problem, as his many detractors persist in suggesting.
He is neither doing nor saying much different to any of his predecessors on this issue.
No, President Xi is the problem.
He has the power to solve this crisis once and for all.
Cut the oil, Mr President.