North Korea announced Wednesday it has successfully tested a minaturized hydrogen bomb.
“The republic’s first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am on January 6, 2016,” a news anchor announced on North Korean state television.
So far there has been no independent confirmation of the news; but if confirmed, this will be North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006. The country apparently also tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile late last month, South Korean officials told the BBC. This test was also a followup to a similar test performed in May 2015.
Prior to the test, North Korean media broadcast a statement contending Pyongyang “deserved to hold nuclear weapons … to counter nuclear threats by the United States.”
A new threat to the United States and others The ability to launch a missile from a submarine radically changes the warning time of an attack for residents of the U.S. West Coast, among others.
It also changes the calculation of military response – not only for the United States, but for all Western nations considered “enemies” of North Korea.
The U.S. Geological Survey reports the epicenter of a quake was detected at 10:00 Pyongyang time (01:30 GMT) in the northeast of the country.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already called it a “serious threat to the safety of his nation” and said flatly that it could not be tolerated.
South Korea warned it is a “serious challenge to global peace,” adding that it also a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Wednesday’s test was expected to prompt worldwide condemnation and possibly economic and political sanctions, which followed the nuclear test in 2013.
More powerful than an atomic bomb A hydrogen bomb is more powerful than the standard atomic bomb, such as that which was used by the United States at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The weapon was first developed by the U.S. in 1952, and packs more explosive power for far less weight. Powered by nuclear fission, such a bomb involves fusion of lighter elements – hydrogen isotopes — into heavier elements that form a chain reaction.
Also known as a thermo-nuclear bomb, an H-bomb has less radioactive fallout. Another advantage of the H-bomb is that it is much smaller than an atomic bomb – it can be as small as a few feet in length.
North Korea shares with Iran Hydrogen bombs can be fit into warheads on ballistic missiles.
This is precisely the problem with North Korea, which has been testing its latest ballistic missile.
An additional problem is North Korea’s willingness to share its nuclear technology with Iran.
In the past, North Korea has also shared its weaponry with Syria. Some of those weapons have found their way to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
New danger to the Middle East A new danger now exists, resulting from the capture by Da’esh (ISIS) of territory from Hezbollah and other fighters supporting the Syrian regime.
In this manner, Da’esh has already begun to build its air force with the equipment of other nations, including Iraq, Syria, Russia and the U.S.
North Korea has in the past shared its nuclear technology, and some of its nuclear hardware, with Syria. It is unclear what – if anything – is still left from that era in the region; but whatever is there will be collected by Da’esh.
Whatever North Korea chooses to share with Iran and its proxy terror groups going forward may also eventually find its way to Da’esh as well.
Did the H-bomb pass the test? It is not clear whether North Korea’s test was successful or not this time around, regardless of what its government announced.Hana Levi Julian