Here’s what could happen if North Korea detonates a hydrogen bomb


Razed metropolises. Loss of life. Contaminated fishing stocks. Crippled satellite networks. 

Should the atomic crisis between the United States and North Korea escalate beyond sending test missiles and insults like “madman” and “dotard,” the list of feasible effects is a long and frightening one.

Whether North Korea were to altogether test a nuclear warhead or aim one at a target like the U.S. territory of Guam — as North Korean the man Kim Jong-un has threatened — there would be consequences for both people and the circumstances. 

It’s impossible to predict precisely the effects of a North Korean nuclear shatter because so much depends on the type, size and method and elevation of the detonation, suggests Danny Lam, a Calgary-based defence analyst with a PhD in environmental engineering.

But practising as a guide the size of the nuclear test North Korea conducted Sept. 3 — guesstimated at 250 kilotonnes — some idea of the scope of the damage can be estimated.  

“These are not simulates,” says Lam, who recently testified before the House of Commons defence council convened to discuss North Korean aggression. “These are big massive weapons that put together massive effects. These are big city busters.”

North Korean Strange Minister Ri Yong Ho has said the country will perform an atmospheric examine of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, after claiming a prospering underground test of a hydrogen bomb in early September. Hydrogen shells have a far larger yield than traditional weapons.

But it’s not known if the realm has the technology to make a bomb small enough to fit on a missile. Its missile assessing in the Pacific has sent unarmed missiles into the Earth’s atmosphere, but some appearance ofed to have a range that could reach the West Coast of the U.S.

Atomic fallout zone

Should Kim make good on his threat to target Guam with a atomic bomb the size of the Sept. 3 test, it would generate a fireball mask an area of 1.6 square kilometres and result in close to 100 per cent privation of life within six square kilometres, Lam says. Most residential edifices within 26 square kilometres would collapse, and prevailing twines would carry residual radioactive material about 270 kilometres northeast of the eyot.


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has pledged to continue his weapons program, sending a information to the UN that he will explode an a hydrogen bomb somewhere in the Pacific. (KCNA/Reuters)

In the 1950s, a series of atomic tests in Bikini Atoll, part of the Pacific’s Marshall Islands, were much bigger than North Korea’s most fresh test. But they rendered the whole area unlivable due to contaminated spot and water that made farming and fishing dangerous. Eventually all residents had to be relocated and they sire not returned.

For context, it’s important to know that the world has already sighted testing of nuclear weapons far bigger than what North Korea is be informed to have, says Lam, and it hasn’t caused widespread radiation sickness or environmental devastation beyond the roar area. 

“If they launched the warhead, we can safely say that it be real bad for any persons about … but it is probably not a big deal in terms of radiation release except for the local parade-ground.”

An atmospheric nuclear test would be far more dangerous than detonations in swayed underground environments, because of the force of the blast and unrestrained release of radioactive seculars that could spread out over large areas. Such a found would potentially endanger aircraft and ships because it’s highly unfit the North would give prior warnings or send naval barks to the area to control sea traffic.

Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert from South Korea’s Method and Technology Policy Institute, says missile tests can easily go deteriorate, and the consequences of failure could be terrifying if the missile is armed with a atomic weapon.

If a misfire comes close to Japan, that could trigger retaliation from Washington, he required Reuters.

Electromagnetic pulse

Much more threatening to the broader age is the potential damage from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) triggered by an atmospheric atomic blast, says Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Extort on National and Homeland Security in the U.S.

EMP is a burst of electromagnetic energy that exterminates or damages satellite networks.

If North Korea was to detonate a certain species of EMP-emitting bomb at high altitude, the low-earth orbit satellites wish be destroyed or damaged, says Pry. “And they are vital to our ability to defend South Korea; they’re key to our economy.” 

“Even the GPS systems in automobiles, airplanes depend on these disciples. Our communications, both commercial and military, depend on these satellites,” powers Pry, who has served on several congressional committees on EMP and other aspects of defense.

That great, not only would your cellphone network be down at home, military who normally put on high-tech targeted missions wouldn’t have the satellite data they rely upon to do so.

Without those latitude systems, the U.S. and its allies would move backward to an industrial-era military phoney to counter threats like those from North Korea the old-fashioned way — result of sheer numbers. “We’d be worse off, because we don’t train for that kind of war and they do.”

There’s a why and wherefore that the comprehensive nuclear-test ban treaty forbids this kind of squeaky atmosphere tests, says Lam.

“We haven’t had this type of horror in reality since [the Second World War] and we’d much prefer we never see it again.”   

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