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What experts know about North Korea’s latest nuclear test

Louisiana State News.Net - Thursday 14th September, 2017

PYONGYANG, North Korea - After responding with rage, to North Korea previous five nuclear bomb tests, the world responded to the defiant regime’s sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3 this year, resolving to punish the nation harsher than before.

A day after the bomb was tested, analysts claimed it was seven times bigger and more powerful than the atomic bomb that the U.S. dropped on Japan’s Hiroshima near the end of the World War II, the razed the entire city and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. 

However, now, after weeks of analysis, experts believe that they might have gravely underestimated North Korea’s true nuclear potential.

They now claim that their new analysis has shown that North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb tested wasn’t 7 times, but 17 times as strong as the bomb that fell on Hiroshima.

Initial estimates had put the blast’s yield at about 120 kilotons, but updated seismic data reveals it was likely around 250 kilotons - approximately 17 times as powerful as the bomb used to decimate the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II.

The latest analysis came from 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

It explained that the revised seismic estimates raise the blast’s magnitude from 5.8 to 6.1, which in turn raises its estimated yield to one-quarter megaton of energy. 

This figure approaches what 38 North had concluded to be the maximum yield that North Korea’s underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site could contain.

In their respective preliminary assessments, the Japanese, U.S. and South Korean governments said the yield was 160, 140 and 50 kilotons.

North Korea’s state media declared that the country had detonated a hydrogen bomb and that the test was “a perfect success.” 

However, on Wednesday, South Korea confirmed reports that it had detected radioactive gas from the nuclear site, but did not verify whether a hydrogen bomb had in fact been used.

Defense analysts at 38 North also warned that they had detected new signs of activity at Punggye-ri, which suggests “onsite work could now be changing focus to further prepare ... for future underground nuclear testing.”

North Korea is faced with an even more intensified pressure from the international community that has been trying for years to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

This year, North Korea has conducted a string of missile tests, along with completion of development and testing of its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) which it claims can reach not only the previously threatened U.S. territory of Guam but any part of the world.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council approved fresh sanctions against Pyongyang in a unanimous vote, mainly slashing the cap on crude and refined oil exports to the country by 30 percent. 

The sanctions also ban textile imports from North Korea, which is a big industry in the reclusive nation.

North Korea responded to the “vicious” sanctions by vowing to inflict “the greatest pain” the U.S. has ever suffered. 

Later, North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song even said, “My delegation condemns in the strongest terms and categorically rejects the latest illegal and unlawful UN Security Council resolution.”

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