North Korea starts off the year with a blast
North Korea on Wednesday celebrated what it called a successful hydrogen bomb test — a milestone that, if true, marks a colossal advancement for the reclusive regime and a big test for leaders worldwide to determine what to do about it.
“Make the world … look up to our strong nuclear country … by opening the year with exciting noise of the first hydrogen bomb!” read a document signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on state television.
Pyongyang has been very vocal about its nuclear ambitions, pressing on despite widespread condemnation, sanctions and other punishments. Having a hydrogen bomb — a device far more powerful than the plutonium weapons that North Korea has used in three earlier underground nuclear tests — ups the ante significantly.
The purported underground test corresponded with a magnitude 5.1 seismic event.
This entry was posted in DPRK Government, Kim Jong Un by Grant Montgomery.
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An earthquake was registered near the Punggye-ri nuclear site in North Korea at 10:00 Pyongyang time (01:30 GMT), with the tremors rattling Chinese border cities. Hours later, in a surprise announcement, a newsreader on North Korean state TV said: “The republic’s first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am on January 6, 2016.”
Hydrogen bombs are more powerful and technologically advanced than atomic weapons, using fusion – the merging of atoms – to unleash massive amounts of energy.
Bruce Bennett, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, cast doubt on Pyongyang’s test: “The bang they should have gotten would have been 10 times greater than what they’re claiming. … So Kim Jong-un is either lying, saying they did a hydrogen test when they didn’t, they just used a little bit more efficient fission weapon – or the hydrogen part of the test really didn’t work very well or the fission part didn’t work very well.”
The data “doesn’t support suggestions that the bomb was a hydrogen bomb”, Chinese military expert Du Wenlong told state broadcaster CCTV.
A South Korean politician, Lee Cheol-woo, said he was briefed by the country’s intelligence agency that the blast “probably falls short” of a hydrogen detonation.