Last Sunday, North Korea tested their largest nuclear weapon to date, confirming that the hermit kingdom does indeed possess a powerful nuclear weapon. But the jury is still out as to whether or not the weapon was a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful weapon known to man, or if it was merely an improved atomic bomb.
Without inspectors on the ground to view the weapon itself, it’s impossible to know one way or another what kind of bomb North Korea has developed. However, the explosion itself created a 6.3 magnitude quake, which provides analysts with information on possible blast yield.
NORSAR (Norwegian Seismic Array), a group that has been monitoring North Korean atomic tests, estimates the explosive yield of Sunday’s test at 120 kilotons, or 120,000 tons of TNT.
To put that into perspective, the Hiroshima blast during The Second World War was only 15 kilotons. A more modern American weapon, the W87, has a blast yield of 300 kilotons.
South Korean officials estimate the blast to be a somewhat lesser 50 kilotons, which would put it on the edge of what is considered possible with a hydrogen bomb.
Hours before the test, state media released images of Kim Jong-Un inspecting what was reported to be a thermonuclear warhead (or hydrogen warhead) used in the test. State media also called the blast a "perfect success", as well as the final step toward "state nuclear force".
In response to the test, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council at 10 a.m. on Monday to discuss the possibility of yet more sanctions against the already crippled North Korean economy. Guterres called the test "profoundly destabilizing for regional security."
South Korea President Moon Jae-in’s Office released a prepared statement, saying they will "pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through peace with our allies."
China, long considered to be North Korea’s only ally in the region, released a more strongly worded statement.
"We strongly urge (the) North Korean side to face up to the firm will of the international community on the denuclearization of the peninsula, abide by relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking wrong actions that exacerbate the situation and are not in its own interest, and return to the track of resolving the issue through dialogue," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
The UN Security Council already met last week when a North Korean missile flew over Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, however, the meeting ended with only a statement condemning the North’s actions.
The only question remaining now is whether or not North Korea has the technology to create a missile capable of striking the continental United States.