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Sunday 20 August 2017
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Fire and fury, by the numbers

Fire and fury, by the numbers

So it seems that the never-ending story of tension rising between North Korea and the United States is, once again, escalating. To get a better idea of what the fire and fury that has inflamed news outlets worldwide actually looks like, let’s break it down by the numbers.

The Nuclear Arsenal

The Economist points out that the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which serves as “the mouthpiece of Kim Jong-un’s bloodthirsty regime,” is not exactly known for its “nuance.”

The same could be said for Donald Trump, who on Aug. 9 tweeted the following:  “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before…” Let’s take a brief look at the “nuclear arsenal” then, shall we?

  • 1967: According to a US declaration made in 2010, the Pentagon wielded 31,225 nuclear warheads at this point during the Cold War era.
  • 1989: The Berlin Wall came down, along with the nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon now wielded 22,217 warheads.
  • 2011: The New START treaty, proposed under the Obama administration with Russia, too effect and limited the number of deployed weapons to a total of 1,550.
  • 2017: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ “Nuclear Notebook” states the US to have a rough total of 4,480 nuclear weapons. Of that total, 1,740 are deployed.

The US Territory: Guam

North Korea responded to President Trump’s “fire and fury” threat with one of their own, centered on the tiny US territory of Guam.

  • 2,100mi: The distance between Guam and the Korean Peninsula.
  • 30×4: This is the number of miles long and across the island of Guam is.
  • 1898: The year the US first gained the territory of Guam, seizing it from Spain. Although tiny, the island’s importance comes from its strategic location. Located in the south Pacific, Guam would become a fueling station for the US fleet as well as a “key part of international communication” when the American trans-Pacific telegraph cable passed through its borders.
  • 1944: The US wins back control of Guam after the Japanese seized it briefly during World War II.
  • 163,000: The number of US citizens that call Guam home as of 2016.
  • 2004: As early as 13 years ago, Pyongyang was believed to have the capacity to strike Guam as reported by South Korean newspapers.
  • 2013: North Korea threatened the Andersen Air Force Base.
  • 13,000: The amount of American military personnel that calls either the air force or naval base on Guam home.

The World’s Response

  • 563: The total of pages in a report published by Japan’s defense ministry, detailing the “new stage” of the North Korean threat.
  • $1bn: The estimated foreign earnings North Korea will lose as a result of the sanctions recently placed on them by a unanimous decision of the UN. The sanctions were a rare spectacle of cooperation between America, China and Russia. The sanctions are also the starting point for this most reason week of international muscle flexing between North Korea and the US.
  • 2006: This year saw the first set of sanctions imposed on North Korea by the UN.
  • 6: The number of times the Kim family and North Korea have had sanctions slapped on them by the UN.

Reading such a neat list of numbers is always helpful in untangling the confusing mess that international politics can sometimes become. Let’s hope that the final number, what all these threats amount to, is a big fat zero.



Give me the smell of a thrift shop bookstore over a puff of Chanel No. 5; a cup of tea and a scone over a siren-painted, white paper cup; and, the four seasons in all their temperamental glory over a life of endless sunshine. I'm an East-coast girl from the suburbs of Philadelphia who can't decide which is better, the countryside or the cityscape.


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