Frequent Asked Questions: North Korea nuclear test

January 6, 2016

What do we know?

On 6 Janurary 2016 North Korean official state media reported that it had carried out a successful test of a thermonuclear weapon, also known as a hydrogen bomb. This announcement followed a statement by the CTBTO that it had detected an “unusual seismic event” at the site of North Korea’s most recent nuclear test in 2013. The CTBTO has monitoring stations positioned around the world to detect underground seismic activity consistent with the detonation of a nuclear weapon.

While details of the test have yet to be confirmed by independent experts, North Korea claims that the device tested was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb. If true, this would be the fourth test of a nuclear weapon by North Korea since 1996 and its first of a hydrogen bomb, which exerts a significantly more powerful yield than an atomic bomb of the type used by the United States over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

According to a statement released early on 6 January from the CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, “If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act constitutes a breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996. It is also a grave threat to international peace and security.”

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