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North Korea versus Northern Territory

As the northernmost capital city of Australia, Darwin has had its share of bad luck, from the Japanese bombing in 1942, through Cyclone Tracy in 1972, to, well, being Darwin (sorry, Darwin). Now the home of Australia’s most entertaining newspaper, Darwin has been singled out by Lil’ Kim for nuclear annihilation.

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Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, criticised the recent arrival of 1,250 US Marines in Darwin for the now pretty routine exercises (coincidentally also involving China):

“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday under the headline “America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments”.

“America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness.”

“A shock brigade of the US masters”; God I miss the communist lingo! (well, not really). And Julie Bishop’s “reckless tongue-lashing” sounds almost kinky (said Bishop to an actress).

The last time I was in the shade of a nuclear holocaust was when I was 0 to 16, though most realistically around 11, during the last Cold War spike of tensions in 1983. So it’s not a laughing matter. Threats of this sort should always be treated seriously (if only because of what they tell you about the mind of those making them), but is Darwin actually in danger?

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(Source: Wikipedia commons)

The short answer is: possibly, if a missile it is still developing was operational, tested, had the range that is currently anyone’s guesswork, and could actually be properly aimed by North Korea to reach the very limit of its possible range (in fairness, the range of guesses about Taepodong 2’s range is such that it extends to 10,000 km, which would put all of Australia and most of the United States in its cross-hair). The Norks make all sorts of claims about their existing and future missiles, with test results being often disappointing (for them, not for us). Better safe than sorry, however, which is why the US is deploying new anti-ballistic missiles to Hawaii, just in case.

Perhaps a more realistic answer is this: the North Korean arsenal has a number of existing, tested and fully functional missiles, probably in high hundreds. It also has, at best, a very limited number of nuclear warheads. On the other hand, it has hundreds of tempting targets within its existing missiles’ range, mostly in South Korea and Japan. Seoul and Tokyo will get bombed way ahead of Darwin, and if they do (God forbid), North Korea will pretty much lose the element of surprise, the second strike capability, and pretty much any capability really, as a result of the American counter-strike.

The shortest answer then: if I were a Darwinian I would lose more sleep over crocs than bombs. Which gives me an idea for a great Territorian counter-strike against Kim…

(The top photo: damage from Cyclone Tracy, not nuclear explosion)

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