Just recently, North Korea announced its first successful test of a Hydrogen Bomb, showcasing their advancement into the age of thermonuclear weapons. This announcement cause a tremor in the national security of nearby countries such as Japan and North Korea as well as a 5.1 magnitude earthquake. The test was actually the fourth from North Korea since 2006 and if the claim is true then it would showcase the state’s advancement from the atomic age. Reports claim that North Korea may still be time away to produce nuclear weapons small enough to attach to a ballistic missile but it seems they are pouring many of the resources to catch up with the western world. North Korean state media stated before the test that the country ”deserved to hold nuclear weapons… to counter nuclear threats by the US.”
The significance of this is of a certain magnitude, North Korean want to be big players in the world of global politics or… they want to obliterate those of the western world who threaten their way of life and government. Either way its unsettling to think a country ruled under one absolute leader could possess thermonuclear weapons with such unpredictability. At least during the Cold War their were attempts at diplomacy during the nuclear arms race and both the US and Soviet superpowers remained in close contact to attempt to make agreements, seemed they liked to keep their enemies closer. North Korea is so mysterious and unresponsive it is relatively difficult to acquire intelligence on the country and therefore ironically leaving the surrounding nations in the dark.
A-Bomb or H-Bomb?
There is also a lot of speculation that the bomb detonated this week wasn’t actually a hydrogen bomb, the yield of the bomb and the seismic activity of the earthquake begs a traditional atomic nuclear weapon. Atomic bombs tend to use a heavy unstable metallic material such as uranium or plutonium, they use nuclear fission which means a trigger is set to split the atoms of the radioactive isotopes within the material and other extraneous energy. Hydrogen bombs typically use a fusion method, these are smashed together instead of splitting apart, combining the atoms into larger atoms fuelled by hydrogen isotopes. Hydrogen bombs were discovered soon after the atomic weapon and it was discovered the yield of these thermonuclear weapons were tens of hundred times more powerful then their atomic counterparts, as was demonstrated with the first full thermonuclear by the name of Ivy Mike in November, 1952. The difference between these two weapons actually shows us that North Korea haven’t quite understood the concept of a hydrogen bomb, or at least they may be false claims, either way their experimentation with these weapons is never good news.
Nuclear tests have normally been a thing of the past, most prominently in the 1950s, they were well documented and broadcast mainly for a global publicity stunt to showcase the power of the country. They were used as an experiment to test the yield and effectiveness of their nuclear weapons, these tests were overtly political and most states publicly declared their nuclear status. The first nuclear test was the Trinity Test on July 16, 1945, a few weeks before the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we can trace back from North Korea the primary intention of the nuclear test was most likely for publicity reasons but it also demonstrates that the small secluded military state has grown to become a nuclear competitor and it is likely action may have to be taken soon as North Korea’s successful nuclear experiments threat the local nations, its not wrong to assume South Korea aren’t slightly anxious from this test. Kim Jong-Un will probably be pleased with the initial reaction this test has created, but with mixed emotions this test has caused a tremor within international politics.