North Korea carried out its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday, claiming to have developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that could sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The bomb used in the country’s sixth-ever nuclear test sent tremors across the region that were 10 times more powerful than Pyongyang’s previous test a year ago, Japanese officials said.
While the type of bomb used and its size have not been independently verified, if true, the pariah state is a significant step closer to being able to fire a nuclear warhead to the US mainland, as it has repeatedly threatened it could if provoked.
The test came just hours after North Korea released images of leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what it said was a hydrogen bomb ready to be put on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type of weapon the country would need to use to deliver a nuclear warhead to far-away locations.
Based on the tremors that followed the test, NORSAR, a Norway-based group that monitors nuclear tests, estimated it had an explosive yield of 120 kilotons. Hiroshima’s had 15 kilotons. But South Korean officials gave a more modest estimation, saying that Sunday’s bomb had a yield of 50 kilotons.
North Korea has for years worked on nuclear miniaturization, which means creating a nuclear warhead small and light enough to be fired over long distances.