Tokyo: North Korea made an extraordinary demonstration in two parts of its nuclear ambitions, launching photos of the leader Kim Jong Un next to what it described as a hydrogen bomb for an intercontinental ballistic missile, detonating, in fact, a device in its sixth and of far the most powerful nuclear test to date.
The underground test, one of the main concerns of Washington, Beijing and all the neighbors of the North, follows intense months that have seen Kim launch missiles at a climax and in a much more provocative than usual.
President Donald Trump, whose first salvo, in a tweet, was: “North Korea has held a major nuclear test, its words and actions remain very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”
Indeed. Here is a closer look at what the North did on Sunday, and some of the possible reasons why.
THE TEACHER OF THE MORNING
The media in the state of North Korea began posting pictures of Kim visiting the country’s Nuclear Weapons Institute to see what the state media described as “a turning signal in nuclear weapons.”
A front page article in the ruling party paper, Rodong Sinmun, carried pictures of Kim watching a peanut-shaped device that said it was a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on the new Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile. North. The official Northern News Agency, KCNA, also released the photos, which were clearly intended to be viewed by a global audience.
If the North can make a nuclear warhead small and light enough to stand on a long-range missile, it has long been a hotly debated issue among foreign experts. This was clearly an attempt to address such doubts. The north in July had shown for the first time that it has or is very close to having an operational ICBM, although experts still believe it could reach Chicago and will probably require another year or two to perfect.
The photos created a stir among the missile and nuclear weapons experts on Twitter, with the general consensus that the design seemed to live up to a sophisticated thermonuclear warhead. The shape of the peanut is created by two rounded “stages” of the device that give it an additional boost and a much higher yield than the simpler nuclear bombs.
State media reports emphasized that the bomb was made from domestic parts and labor, suggesting that more could be done without outside experts or imports.
The biggest explosion yet
Before the observers in North Korea had the opportunity to digest the photos, the seismographs recorded a great earthquake around 12:30 p.m. North Korea Time.
Ground motion is a great indicator of underground nuclear testing, and sometimes the only one. North Korea has proven to be able to mask other telltale signs, such as the leakage of radioactive materials. The power of the explosion, its location at the North’s nuclear test center and the surface epicenter left little doubt.
North Korea has repeatedly stated that it will continue to pursue nuclear weapons and long-range missiles capable of landing in the United States. because he sees that strategy as his only protection against what he believes is a hostile superpower inclined to regime change or possibly pure invasion.
To do this, you must test your weapons for both perfect technologies and doubts. Sunday’s test was a long way to go.
Although it does not demonstrate that a nuclear warhead can be installed in Hwasong-14, thermonuclear devices can be light and still produce tremendously high yields. The device detonated on Sunday is believed to have a much higher yield than anything the North has demonstrated – possibly 70 kilotons according to the Japanese Defense Minister.
That is much more than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima (15 kilotons) and Nagasaki (about 20).
A CURTAIN HEADPHONE
Beginning with the launches of two ICBMs in July that are believed to have scope to attack the mainland of the United States, North Korea has been much more aggressive in its military activities in recent months than usual.
It is possible that Kim Jong Un – feeling threatened or emboldened by Trump – has decided to rush to get that element of nuclear deterrence that his country wants.
But tensions on the Korean peninsula rise every year in the spring and late summer when the United States and South Korea carry out annual military exercises.
North Korea has stated that, at least in part, it ishappy wheels
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