Yesterday, North Korea claimed that it tested a Hydrogen bomb. If the H-bomb test is genuine, then the world has awoken to a new reality today. If North Korea performed a successful H-bomb test, then the world has arguably just become a more dangerous place. According to the Daily Mail, reports in the state-controlled North Korean media claimed that North Korea had conducted a powerful H-bomb test in a surprise move that has set the world on edge.
If North Korea has genuinely conducted a successful H-bomb test, it would be a major development for a country seen by most in the west to be a “rogue state.” Many in the west have already condemned what is seen as the latest act of defiance by a North Korea regime who seem determined to improve its nuclear capability despite international concerns.
According to WGN, a North Korean television anchor announced that North Korea “had tested a ‘miniaturized’ hydrogen bomb, elevating the country’s ‘nuclear might to the next level’ and providing it with a weapon to defend against the United States and its other enemies.”
There is, however, some doubt about North Korea’s claims. BBC News reports that the test generated seismic waves broadly equivalent to an earthquake that hit with a magnitude of 5.1.
Bruce Bennett, a senior defence analyst at the Rand Corporation, estimates that the North Korea test showed the sort of measurements that would be expected of a nuclear bomb in the 10 to 15 kiloton range. This would make the bomb just slightly larger than North Korea’s last test that took place back in 2013.
Experts claim that an H-bomb test would be more likely to yield results typical of a bomb in the 100 kiloton range. James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told BBC News that the claims that this was an H-bomb test may be false because “it tentatively appears too small to be a hydrogen bomb.” Apparently, a full thermonuclear device should have generated a seismic measurement of “around seven on the earthquake scale.”
While North Korea may not have actually conducted an H-bomb test, any nuclear test flies in the face of the international community’s wishes and fuels fears that we could be headed for a fresh arms race. North Korea’s actions will be seen as a blow after Iran recently agreed to step back from their nuclear programme.
Yahoo News reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin is “extremely worried” that North Korea claims to have tested an H-bomb and has ordered a thorough analysis of data collected by monitoring stations to try to confirm the reports and claims of North Korea.
Channel News Asia reports that the U.K. foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said that a test of a hydrogen nuclear bomb by North Korea would be a “provocation which I condemn without reservation” and a “grave breach” of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
North Korea’s nuclear tests are worrying for the international community because it is widely believed that each test brings North Korea closer to building a nuclear device small enough to be mounted on missile systems with enough range to attack the U.S. mainland.
The latest test by North Korea also raises tensions in the region, especially with the country’s neighbors in South Korea. The test is also a major blow to the United Nations as it comes so closely after failed diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Few in the west trust North Korea over its nuclear programme. The latest tests will raise concerns that we are headed for nuclear armageddon higher still.
[Photo by Wong Maye-E/AP, File]