There was a 5.1 magnitude earthquake yesterday in North Korea.
Except it wasn’t an earthquake. North Korea announced that it had detonated a sophisticated hydrogen bomb. North Korea’s three previous nuclear tests since 2006 have been met with international condemnation, including resolutions and sanctions from the Security Council. But North Korea has ignored the U.N. on this.
The good news is this: as the UN Security Council held an emergency session on Wednesday to respond to North Korea’s action, the White House said that initial US findings were “not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test”—something that would have represented a major ramp-up in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said initial data from various monitoring sources were “not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.”
Nuclear monitors also said the magnitude of the blast suggested an atomic explosion rather than one produced by an exponentially more powerful hydrogen device — potentially more than 1,000 times more destructive than the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima near the end of World War II.
But that’s not conclusive. We (the United States) reportedly sent our WC-135 “sniffer plane” from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Wednesday, while Japan said it dispatched three aircraft. Gases can sometimes leak out for several weeks after a test, so it might take some time for this question to be answered.
After the 2006 test, a significant amount of gas was detected, enabling analysts to say it was a plutonium-based device, while in 2009, no gases were found. The residue from the 2013 test was very faint, meaning it was impossible to draw any conclusions, analysts say.
We’ll know more in a few weeks.
Does this mean the U.S. is at risk, if they have that technology?
Probably not. They still need missiles that will get through our missile defense shield. And miniaturization technology, which is huge (if you can’t get a bomb on a missile, there’s no point).
But a weaponized North Korea could spell trouble for our allies, particularly Japan and South Korea. And Kim Jung Un is such a loony tunes, who knows what he might do.