North Korea Carries Out Its Most Powerful Nuclear Test To Date

Dominique Mosbergen

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North Korea carried out its most powerful nuclear test yet on Sunday, claiming it successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb designed to be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korean state television described the nuclear test as a “perfect success.” 

Analysts have expressed skepticism about the claims of an H-bomb ― a device far more powerful than the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki ― but the international community expressed “grave concern” at the apparent advancement in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the nuclear test caused a shallow magnitude 6.3 earthquake. A South Korean official told The New York Times this meant the explosion was at least “five to six times” more powerful than North Korea’s previous nuclear test, which took place last September

In a series of tweets posted a few hours after the detonation, U.S. President Donald Trump called North Korea a “rogue nation” that continues “to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

Trump, who previously threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” went on to say that South Korea’s “talk of appeasement” was not working. “They only understand one thing” he said without yet elaborating.

Earlier, in the immediate aftermath of the test, Washington reportedly conducted emergency calls with allies Japan and South Korea.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, for 20 minutes about an hour after the blast, according to the Associated Press. 

Seoul has called for the “strongest possible” response from the international community, including new sanctions to “completely isolate” its northern neighbor, the BBC reported.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it “resolutely opposes” the nuclear test, while the Russian foreign ministry said North Korea’s blatant disregard of international law deserved “the strongest condemnation.”

Yukiya Amano, head of the UN nuclear watchdog, called North Korea’s nuclear program “a matter of grave concern.” 

“This new test, which follows the two tests last year and is the sixth [by North Korea] since 2006, is in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community,” said Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The apparent nuclear test took place on Sunday mere hours after North Korean media released images of Kim Jong-un inspecting an hourglass-shaped warhead, identified by the Pyongyang regime as a hydrogen bomb. (KCNA/Reuters)

The test occurred mere hours after North Korean media reported Pyongyang had developed a hydrogen bomb that could be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile ― a munition system that could possibly reach the U.S. mainland. Images had been circulated of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un inspecting an hourglass-shaped warhead.

Though analysts said Sunday that they doubt North Korea has truly developed a hydrogen bomb, experts said the country’s nuclear capabilities were evidently improving. 

Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst in Seoul, told The New York Times he believed the test on Sunday involved a “boosted” atomic bomb. Nuclear weapons expert David Albright told the paper the power of the device suggested it contained “thermonuclear material.” 

Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who specializes in nuclear strategy, described the weapon tested as a “city buster.” 

“Now, with even relatively inaccurate intercontinental ballistic missile technology, [North Korea] can destroy the better part of a city with this yield,” Narang told The Washington Post.


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This article has been updated with U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.