North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test
September 4, 2017 -- North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date as the country claimed it detonated a hydrogen bomb capable of being mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
An earthquake analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey fixed the coordinates of the detonation in the northeast sector of North Korea. The blast registered 6.3 in magnitude, which is stronger than the 5.1 recorded in North Korea’s last test in September 2016, suggesting a yield of between 100-120 kilotons.
Confirming the size of the weapon takes on increased importance since North Korea successfully test launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – theoretically capable of striking the U.S. mainland – in July. North Korea has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, including one last week that flew over northern Japan.
Calculating the yield is the job of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Experts will analyze seismology of the blast and deploy a nuclear sniffer plane, WC-135 Constant Phoenix, to detect radioactivity in the atmosphere.