In the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s bellicose United Nations speech – where he threatened to “totally destroy” the 25 million inhabitants of North Korea – Trump’s own use of provocative and unprecedented language was largely ignored.
Instead, frenzied coverage focused primarily on North Korea’s response to his shocking UN address. North Korea’s answer came courtesy of foreign minister Ri Yong-ho, who told reporters that North Korean leadership may consider testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific in response to Trump’s UN threats.
The latest counter from North Korea prompted a frantic response from corporate media pundits. Fox News interviewed retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters who argued that such a test would be “close to an act of war.” Reuters quoted David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, who argued that such a test would be a “tipping point” for China and might prompt many other countries to call for an “end to the [North Korean] regime.”
Most reports gave a scant and highly selective history of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean. Reuters, for example, stated that the United States’ only test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead was fired from a submarine in the Pacific Ocean in 1962. Others made no mention of the previous nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific, or merely stated that the last above-ground test of a nuclear device was conducted by China in 1980 – suggesting to their readers that a potential test by North Korea would be among the first conducted in the Pacific.
In reality, the history of nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific is as long as it is tragic. Such tests in the region were conducted exclusively by the only country in the world to have used a nuclear bomb against another nation – the United States.