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This article is published in collaboration with Quartz.
North Korea successfully tested a “miniaturized H-bomb,” an announcer on the isolated country’s state-run television station said Wednesday, weeks after leader Kim Jong-un said the country had successfully developed a hydrogen bomb.
Miniaturization, first of all, has been applied to nuclear weapons for decades, to allow them to be loaded onto long-range missiles. North Korea claimed last May it had developed the capacity to miniaturize nuclear weapons, a claim that many defense experts disputed. At the time the US National Security Council said, though, that North Korea was developing long-range missiles that could threaten the US.
This difference—and this is the terrifying part—is part of the reason hydrogen bombs are much stronger, as Popular Mechanics explains:
H-bombs are much more powerful—while nuclear bombs are often in the kilotons (one kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT) hydrogen bombs are usually in the megatons (one megaton equals 1,000,000 tons of TNT).
“Ivy Mike,” the first hydrogen bomb ever tested by the US Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Defense in 1952, was 10.4 megatons, and military reports (pdf, pg. 192) say it sent heatwaves as far as 35 miles (56 km) away. “Fat Man,” the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki in 1945 that killed about 40,000 people instantly, was 21 kilotons in comparison.
South Korea’s meteorological agency said it had not detected any radiation after North Korea said it had tested a bomb.
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Author: Heather Timmons is is the Asia Correspondent for Quartz, based in Hong Kong.
Image: A frame grab taken from video footage shows containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide. REUTERS/Reuters TV.
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