• Hannah Phillips

North Korea Explodes Its First Hydrogen Bomb

Yesterday North Korea escalated its confrontation with the rest of the world by exploding a large hydrogen device.

The explosion was first detected by seismologists who recorded a tremor that registered 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Later yesterday North Korean state media claimed that a hydrogen device had been detonated that was capable of being attached to a missile that would reach the United States.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC’s AM this morning that the development represented the greatest crisis on the Korean Peninsula for sixty years.

The nuclear device that North Korea tested appeared to be so large that Vipin Narang, an expert on nuclear

proliferation and strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called it a “city buster.”

North Korean television on Sunday broadcast footage of Kim signing the order to detonate. Sunday’s test, part of the regime’s plan for building “a strategic nuclear force,” was a “perfect success,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korean media claimed that all the components in the hydrogen device were manufactured in North Korea along with the two stage missile designed to carry it to the United States. They said that North Korea was capable of producing as many nuclear missiles as it wanted.

The Washington Post reports that US specialists who have examined photographs of the device that Kim Jong un unveiled on television are sceptical about the claims of the Pyongyang regime. David Albright, a nuclear weapons expert and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, was sceptical of North Korea’s claims and said that the photos were likely “propaganda.”

But the Post says there is no doubt that North Korea is making progress. South Korean government officials and independent nuclear scientists estimated the yield — the amount of energy released by the weapon — to be 100 kilotons.

That would make it almost seven times as strong as the American atomic bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.

Albright said. “It would show that their design, whatever the specific design, has achieved a yield that is capable of destroying substantial parts of large modern cities.” Still, according to the Post Albright doubted that North Korea had been able to make such a warhead small enough to fit onto a missile.

At the moment US and South Korean officials appear mystified by the North Korean end game: do the North Koreans ultimately want to negotiate with the United States as the Chinese seem to believe or is Kim Jong-un maintaining his bellicose position in order to strengthen his position domestically.

Moreover why is North Korea doing its best to alienate China.

China’s primary concern is stability on its borders, and it has shied away from implementing sanctions that would seriously undermine the regime in Pyongyang, analysts have said. Almost all international sanctions, such as recent bans on coal and seafood exports, rely on Chinese enforcement because about 90 percent of North Korean trade goes through China.

Sunday’s test caused anger across the region including China, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in saying he would “never allow North Korea to continue advancing its nuclear and missile technologies,” according to his national security adviser.

South Korean military leaders warned North Korea that they, together with their American allies, were “fully equipped” to punish North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he “would not tolerate” the nuclear test.

Abe had spoken with Trump earlier in the day, and said afterwards that they had agreed to “increase pressure on North Korea and make it change its policies.”

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