Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Nokor H-bomb test successful, says state TV

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated
Andrew Cummings | 05 September, 2017, 21:21

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 USA mainland, as it has repeatedly threatened it could if provoked.

What kind of bomb was detonated? Experts said North Korea may have tested a "boosted" atomic bomb.

Hydrogen bombs use fusion - the merging of atoms - to unleash huge amounts of energy, whereas atomic bombs use nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms.

Pictures of Kim at the Nuclear Weapons Institute showed the young leader, dressed in a black suit, examining a metal casing with a shape akin to a peanut shell. But if the North Korean program is advancing at the pace it claims, it may be too late to debate over negotiations or their meaning - the North may be closer than anyone expected to having a viable nuclear deterrent. But the blast was its most powerful to date by far and many experts said it had all the hallmarks of a hydrogen bomb. State media said the device could be loaded on to a ballistic missile.

How does it compare to previous tests?

Though the precise strength of the blast has yet to be determined, the artificial natural disaster it caused was several times stronger than tremors generated by its previous tests.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests a year ago and has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including flight-testing developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles and flying a powerful mid-range missile over Japan.

Seoul's weather agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff said an artificial 5.7 magnitude quake occurred at 12:29 p.m. local time, in Kilju, northern Hamgyong province, the site where North Korea has conducted nuclear tests in the past.

Experts are sceptical of the claim that Pyongyang has mastered hydrogen technology, although it is nearly impossible to verify statements about its highly secret weapons programme.

What does the test tell us?

North Korea in July test-launched two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland United States.

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The non-profit also said "it looked like a model in a room for models". About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.

"Any technological tests can be seen as playing poker", Cha said.

Analysts are divided on whether Sunday's test could lead to more North Korean provocations, or become an opening for dialogue.

It came hours after North Korea claimed that its leader has inspected a hydrogen bomb meant for a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Guam is a major sore point for Pyongyang because it is a USA military hub and home to a squadron of B-1B bombers, which the North fears could be used to attack their country.

- US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is drafting tough sanctions against North Korea, adding "this isn't the time for just talk".

Melissa Hanham of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in California said the latest images released by the North could not be proved real of themselves.

The office says U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, for 20 minutes in an emergency phone call about an hour after the detonation.

Current information did not definitively indicate that a thermonuclear weapon had been tested "but it appears to be a likely possibility at this point", she said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been high since last month when North Korea threatened to launch missiles into the sea near the strategically located US Pacific territory of Guam after Mr Trump said Pyongyang would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the US.

Trump had no immediate response, though he sent a tweet thanking relief workers after Hurricane Harvey devastated states in the southern US.

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