North Korea has announced this morning that they’ve successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
The secretive state made the announcement on TV and radio, claiming the test was one of a number of “eye-catching miracles” and, in a bizarre accompanying statement, Kim Jong-un wrote about welcoming in the new year with the explosion.
According to the Mirror, the portly dictator wrote:
Let’s begin the year of 2016 with the thrilling sound of our first hydrogen bomb explosion, so that the whole world will look up to our socialist, nuclear-armed republic and the great Workers’ Party of Korea!
Seismic activity from the region does seem to support Kim Jong-un’s claim and Britain, the United States, Russia, Japan and the United Nations have all strongly condemned the nation, while neighbouring South Korea has deployed troops to the border.
The nuclear test came two days ahead of what is generally believed to be Kim’s birthday – though no one is sure.
Speaking through the government’s official press agency, the North called the device the “H-bomb of justice”. However, the agency also said Pyongyang will act responsibly and, somewhat comfortingly, promised not to use its nuclear weapons unless its “sovereignty was infringed”.
Yang Uk, a senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum, told a press conference:
Given the scale, it is hard to believe this is a real hydrogen bomb. They could have tested some middle stage kind (of device) between an A-bomb and H-bomb, but unless they come up with any clear evidence, it is difficult to trust their claim.
However, the BBC reports that Joe Cirincione, a nuclear expert and president of global security organisation Ploughshares Fund, said:
North Korea may well have mixed a hydrogen isotope in a normal atomic fission bomb and because it is, in fact, hydrogen, they could claim it is a hydrogen bomb. But it is not a true fusion bomb capable of the massive multi-megaton yields these bombs produce.
Hydrogen or H-bombs are thermonuclear devices capable of causing mass devastation. They are detonated in two stages, with an initial nuclear fission reaction used to ignite a secondary nuclear fusion reaction using materials like uranium or plutonium.
Three years ago Prime Minister David Cameron claimed the Korean regime’s arsenal was already so powerful the “whole” of America, Europe and the UK was within reach – although most experts refute these claims, so hopefully there’s no need to hit the panic button just yet.