North Korea sharply raised the stakes in its stand-off with the rest of the world Sunday, detonating a powerful nuclear device that it claimed was hydrogen bomb that could be attached to a missile capable of reaching the mainland United States.
Kim Jong Un’s regime is exaggerating its feats, scientific evidence showed that North Korea had crossed an important threshold and had detonated a nuclear device that was exponentially more powerful than its last — and almost eight times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
Tensions had already been running high, with Kim repeatedly defying international condemnation and increasingly blunt warnings by President Trump and continuing to launch ballistic missiles.
But Sunday’s blast — North Korea’s sixth nuclear test but the first since Trump took office — could escalate those tensions to a new level.
China on Sunday said it “resolutely opposes and strongly condemns” the launch, adding to denunciations from South Korea and Japan.
North Korea’s latest nuclear test took place at exactly noon local time at its Punggye-ri testing site and was recorded as a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey. It was followed eight minutes later by a 4.1 magnitude earthquake that appeared to be a tunnel collapsing at the site.
Japan immediately sent up sniffer planes to try to measure radiation levels.
North Korean state media said that the test was carried to test “the accuracy and credibility” of its “H-bomb to be placed at the payload of the ICBM.” North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time in July, and its second test later the same month showed the rocket could theoretically reach Denver or Chicago.
Those launches caused Trump to tell reporters that if North Korea continued its nuclear provocations, it would feel “fire and fury.” He later tweeted that the American military was “locked and loaded.”
North Korean television on Sunday broadcast footage of Kim signing the order to detonate. Sunday’s test, part of the regime’s plan for building “a strategic nuclear force,” was a “perfect success,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.