The isolated nation of North Korea on Tuesday announced they successfully tested a hydrogen bomb — a “significant advancement” for the country’s military, CNN reports.
If true, the testing of the bomb — hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 — is the first for the country who has thrice tested plutonium weapons in underground nuclear experiments.
“If there’s no invasion on our sovereignty we will not use nuclear weapon,” the North Korean state news agency said. “This H-bomb test brings us to a higher level of nuclear power.”
Though the U.S. Geological Survey detected a magnitude 5.1 earthquake around the time North Korea claims the bomb was tested (about 10 a.m.), U.S. authorities say it could take days to determine if the test was successful.
Nuclear experts and the South Korean military saying that the size of the blast was consistent with an atomic explosion, not an enormous hydrogen bomb.
Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif, said that Wednesday’s explosion looked very similar to past tests and was not enormous, suggesting it was not a hydrogen bomb. South Korean lawmakers told local reporters that the explosion had a yield of about 6 kilotons — making it about the same size as North Korea’s 2013 atomic test.
Either way, Pyongyang’s provocative action will present a new challenge to the outside world, which has struggled to find ways to bring about an end to North Korea’s nuclear defiance.
It’s unclear how China, the closest semblance to an ally North Korea has, will act, but on Tuesday, Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters the country “strongly opposes” its neighbor’s actions.
“Today [North Korea] ignored the general objection from the international community and conducted a nuclear test once again. As to this matter, China strongly opposes,” Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters in Beijing.
“China will resolutely promote the goal of denuclearization on the peninsula, and stick to solving the peninsula nuclear issues through the six-party talk framework,” she said, referring to long-defunct multilateral talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.
North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2013 prompted China to expand sanctions against the nation, though it is not clear if those restrictions were enforced, the Washington Post reports.
The U.S. is keeping a close eye on the situation.
“While we cannot confirm these claims at this time, we condemn any violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions and again call on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and commitments,” said John Kirby, the State Department spokesman. “We have consistently made clear that we will not accept it as a nuclear state. We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including [South] Korea, and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations.”