We're slowly getting more information on North Korea's third nuclear test. Here's what we know so far.
- It was probably plutonium. North Korea's Korean Central News Agency reported that they tested a smaller bomb. "The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power," reads the KCNA report on the test. Analysts were worried that North Korea was using a uranium-fueled weapon, which spells different kinds of trouble, such as uranium being harder to detect, and it could possibly mean the involvement of of Iran. The smaller, device possibly indicates "that it had again used plutonium which is more suitable for use as a missile warhead,"reports Reuters.
- Tuesday's explosion was twice as big as the last test. South Korea's Defense Ministry says that the explosion was around 10 kilotons. That's much bigger than the 2006 test, which yielded less than 1 kiloton, and around double its 2009 test, which was between 2 to 7 kilotons. To put that into scale, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was about 10 kilotons.
- Don't be surprised if there's a second nuclear test coming. On Feb. 4, South Korean intelligence officials noticed that there was activity at a second underground nuclear facility. Those fears are still very real. "North Korea may conduct an additional nuclear test and launch a long-range missile if the United Nations moves to penalize it for its third nuclear test," reports South Korea's Yonhap news agency. And guess what? The U.N. wants to penalize them. Countries like Germany are urging the U.N. to mull more sanctions, and North Korea's biggest ally, China, has told them to stand down. "We strongly urge North Korea to abide by its nonnuclear commitment and not to take any further actions that would worsen the situation," China said in a statement picked up by Reuters. And South Korea's Yonhap news agency reports that North Korea has already suggested it would try additional nuke tests if U.S. reacts with hostility.
- President Obama has denounced the test. "The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies," President Obama said in a statement. We're not sure how that rates on North Korea's hostility meter, and if that urging of sanctions will spur another North Korean nuclear test.
- North Korea hates being threatened. The U.N. will have an emergency Security Council meeting at 9 a.m. to discuss the nuclear test, but even before then, North Korean diplomats are, well, stretching the term "diplomat." Reuters's Andrew Binet reports that one diplomat told the U.N. disarmament forum that North Korea "will never bow to any resolutions" and that South Korea should tell the United States to halt its "hostile policy."
- Obviously, Kim Jong-un's regime thinks this is a glorious day. "The nuclear test will greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in their efforts to build a thriving nation with the same spirit and mettle as displayed in conquering space," reads the report from KCNA. (There might be something lost in translation, but North Koreans haven't exactly conquered space.) The report goes on to read that the test will "offer an important occasion in ensuring peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region." We beg to differ.
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