Bi-Weekly Geopolitical Report – Going Nuclear with North Korea (May 23, 2022)

by Thomas Wash | PDF

Don’t miss the accompanying Geopolitical Podcast, available on our website and most podcast platforms: Apple | Spotify | Google

At nearly 5,000 nuclear warheads, Ukraine had one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world on its territory. If Ukraine hadn’t transferred those weapons to Russia in 1996, it is unlikely that Moscow would have invaded. North Korea believes it is facing a similar threat which is why it has fought to maintain its nuclear program.

In North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, the bomb generated the equivalent of a 4.7 magnitude earthquake. In its next attempt in 2009, the bomb was four times stronger. The bombs tested in 2016 and 2017 each yielded more power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. In short, North Korea clearly has the ability to develop and produce its own nuclear weapons. The country’s ability to deliver a nuclear weapon against the U.S. or any other adversary is less clear, but a flurry of recent tests suggests it is making incremental progress in its missile technology.

This report will focus on North Korea’s nuclear program and the implications for the rest of the world if North Korea is capable of striking the U.S. with a nuke. We start with a brief history of the country’s nuclear weapons program and discuss how the rest of the world has tried to denuclearize the country. Next, we examine North Korea’s current military capabilities and potential threats to the global order. As usual, we conclude with the potential impact on financial markets from these events.

Read the full report