What was initially thought to be a 5.3-magnitude earthquake turned out to be even more terrifying. On Friday, North Korea tested and detonated their most powerful nuclear warhead to date.
Despite what will definitely bring consequences from the rest of the world, Pyongyang confirmed and boasted about their most recent nuclear test.
North Korean state-run media said the following about their latest test:
“Finally examined and confirmed the structure and specific features of movement of (a) nuclear warhead that has been standardized to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets.
The standardization of the nuclear warhead will enable (North Korea) to produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power. This has definitely put on a higher level (the North’s) technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets.”
This latest test put the world on alarm because this was the country’s biggest nuclear test. The was North Korea’s fifth and most powerful nuclear detonation. South Korea’s weather agency said the explosive yield of the blast would have been 10 to 12 kilotons, or 70 to 80 percent of the force of the 15-kiloton atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. North Korea’s fourth test was an estimated six kilotons. January’s 5.1 magnitude earthquake in the same area is believed to be an enhanced fission weapon and not a true hydrogen bomb.
North Korea is already heavily sanctioned by the worldwide community and conducted the test knowing full well that there will be repercussions for their latest transgression.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the nuclear test showed the “fanatic recklessness of the Kim Jong-un government as it clings to nuclear development.” South Korea said it will utilize all available measures to put even more pressure on North Korea. “The only thing that Kim Jong Un regime can gain from the nuclear tests is stronger sanctions from the international community and its isolation. Such provocation will eventually hasten its path to self-destruction,” Park said in a statement.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called North Korea an “outlaw nation in the neighborhood” and said his country will consider escalating sanctions against Pyongyang. Japan has already called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to consider a unified response.
President Barack Obama said North Korea’s provocations would have “serious consequences” and that the U.S. is committed to the security of its allies in Asia and around the world.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying condemned North Korea’s actions and said it was an act to destabilize relations on the Korean Peninsula. However, China also placed blamed on the United States deploying an advanced missile defense system in South Korea, and called for “all sides” to stop “adding oil to the flames.”
Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the east Asia non-proliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said the latest nuclear test was probably a smaller, more versatile device than the one in January.
“I wouldn’t call this miniaturized. I would call it a compact device, small enough to go on a missile. I think they used both plutonium and highly enriched uranium so that they can stretch their plutonium stockpile and get a 20 to 30 kiloton yield and build more weapons than we thought,” Lewis said.
Kelsey Davenport, the director for non-proliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, weighed in on the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea.
“All this activity is aimed at expanding the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and expanding its delivery options,” Davenport said. “It is taking steps to quality-improve its missiles, using solid fuel so they can be deployed more quickly, and extending their range. The trajectory points to a growing North Korean nuclear threat and the next US administration will have to prioritize that threat.”
“It is likely now that North Korea could at this point put a nuclear warhead on a short- or medium-range missile which could reach South Korea, Japan and US military installations in the region,” Davenport told CNN.
However, she also believes that it will take another decade before North Korea can develop a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.