The seismographs of South Korea, Japan and the United States have recorded tonight an earthquake (5.1 on the Richter scale) with its epicenter in North Korea, about 50 km to the north of Kilju, not far away from the border with China. Data analysis has made it clear that it was not an earthquake of natural origin, but caused by an atomic explosion. A few hours later from Pyongyang came the confirmation, which announced that at 10 (local time) had been successfully conducted a test on a hydrogen bomb. The area of the earthquake coincides with that of the North Koreans nuclear testing carried out previously.
The North Korean TV speakers have said that Pyongyang tested a “miniature” hydrogen bomb, raising the nuclear power of the country and giving it a weapon “to defend itself against the United States and other enemies”. The Declaration states that the test had been perfectly “successful”. State television showed a photograph of Kim Jong in which he is signing the document authorizing the atomic test. The news was welcomed with enthusiasm by a crowd of North Koreans who attended the announcement in front of the giant screen located in the square of the Pyongyang station.
Last 10 December Kim Jong-a had declared that North Korea possessed a hydrogen bomb and that it “was ready to use it to defend the independence and dignity of their Homeland”. Analysts, however, did not believe much this announcement, considering it to be merely a propaganda move. Previously, Korea had carried out three tests on atomic fission bombs: in 2006, in 2009 and 2013, and for this reason the UN had imposed international sanctions.
World leaders’ reaction have been immediate. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that the North Korean test is a threat to Japan’s security: “We cannot absolutely allow it and we firmly condemn it”. The Minister of Foreign Affairs in Japan has now met the American ambassador in Tokyo. Lessina Zerbo, head of the organization of the UN Treaty on the ban on nuclear testing, has said that the test “is a violation of the Treaty and a serious threat to international peace and security”. South Korea has said that it will consult the allies on further UN sanctions. The Minister of Defense has communicated that it is strengthening security and monitoring the boundaries. The United States are cautious about the success of the test, but “condemn every violation of the UN resolutions”, reads a note of the spokesperson of the Security Council of the White House Ned Price, in which he reaffirms that Washington will not accept North Korea as a nuclear State.
According to several experts, it will take days or weeks to verify whether North Korea has actually carried out a test on a hydrogen bomb. Some people believe that it might have been something different from a hydrogen bomb, which is much more powerful than the nuclear ones. According to Crispin Oak, an Australian expert in nuclear weapons, the explosion was weaker than one would expect from a hydrogen bomb. Also Bruce Bennet, analyst of the Rand Corporation, thinks this way: “The dimensions of this weapon were probably similar to those of the Hiroshima bomb. If it had been a hydrogen bomb, the explosion would have been ten times stronger”. But the North Koreans themselves have said that it was a mini-bomb. Japan and the USA have sent reconnaissance aircrafts to measure radioactivity in the air around the Korean peninsula after the test on a hydrogen bomb. In China were evacuated some residents in Jilin Province, on the border with North Korea after the test and the earthquake.