The following is an excerpt from Fred Kaplan | January 6, 2016 | Slate.com |
North Korea’s nuclear test isn’t the game changer that the country’s dictator Kim Jong-un claims it to be. Contrary to his boasts Tuesday, the device tested was almost certainly not a hydrogen bomb (which can explode with thousands of times the power of an atomic bomb). It puts Kim no closer to his dream of a nuclear-tipped long-range missile. As only the country’s fourth nuclear test (and the third remotely successful one), it doesn’t alter the region’s, much less the world’s, military balance one iota.
But that doesn’t mean the test is nothing to worry about. Given that we’re talking about the youngest, most hermetic, best armed, and possibly most megalomaniacal dictator in the world today, it means quite the opposite.
Last month, to the skepticism of many, Kim announced that his scientists were ready to test an H-bomb. On Tuesday, or early Wednesday morning in North Korea, after reports of a seismic event resembling either an earthquake or a nuclear explosion, he proclaimed that they had done so. In fact, though, Western officials and physicists say that the blast registered only 5.1 on the Richter scale—the same as North Korea’s last nuclear test, in February 2013—and that its explosive yield was probably a little less than the earlier blast’s 7 kilotons (the equivalent of 7,000 tons of TNT, about half the power of the Hiroshima bomb at the end of World War II).
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