On Wednesday morning, the world expressed shock to the news that North Korea had successfully conducted a powerful hydrogen bomb test.
North Korea claimed that it had tested a “miniaturized” hydrogen bomb, elevating the country’s “nuclear might to the next level”. The bomb has given them a weapon to defend itself against the United States and other enemies, claimed Pyongyang.
“The republic’s first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am (0330 GMT)…With the perfect success of our historic H-bomb, we have joined the rank of advanced nuclear states,” North Korean state television announced.
North Korea’s claim to have tested a Hydrogen bomb comes just a few weeks after its leader Kim Jong Un had bragged about his country’s H-bomb capabilities. Interestingly, the test comes just two days ahead of the leader’s birthday.
The US Geological survey reported a 5.1 magnitude earthquake whose epicentre was in the northeast of the country right next to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The news of the earthquake further increased the speculation that North Korea did test a Hydrogen bomb. However, many experts continue to question North Korea’s claims.
“The bang they should have gotten would have been 10 times greater than what they got,” said Bruce Bennett, a senior defence analyst with the Rand Corporation told BBC.
Given the estimated yield, the device was “unlikely to be a true 2-stage thermonuclear bomb,” tweeted James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
North Korea’s claims triggered outrage and fear across the world. The UN announced an emergency Security Council meeting. The US vowed to “respond appropriately” to “any and all provocations.”
Japanese Prime Minister described it as a “great threat” that amounted to a gross violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered its military to bolster its combined defense posture with US forces and called the test a “grave provocation” and “an act that threatens our lives and future.”
China too condemned the test.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) once again carried out the nuclear test irrespective of the international community’s opposition. The Chinese government firmly opposes that,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media in Beijing.
India too expressed concern.
“It is a matter of deep concern that DPRK has again acted in violation of its international commitments in this regard. We call upon DPRK to refrain from such actions which adversely impact on peace and stability in the region, “External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
North Korea’s claims have led to a strong push for new, tougher sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations.
A hydrogen bomb, or thermonuclear device, uses fusion in a chain reaction that results in a far more powerful explosion and radioactivity than the fission blast generated by uranium or plutonium alone.
However, a question mark still remain whether it was an H-bomb that Pyongyang tested. But it certain that it was North Korea’s fourth nuclear test. Previous three tests were done in 2006, 2009 and 2013 and all of them triggered several UN sanctions.
After its last nuclear test in 2013, North Korea restarted a plutonium reactor that it had shut down at its Yongbyon complex in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord.
The failure of the UN sanctions to prevent a fourth detonation will place the Security Council under intense pressure to take more drastic action against Pyongyang.
(With inputs from agencies)