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Publication Date : 13-02-2013
The power of the device used in North Korea’s third nuclear test fell short of expectations based on Pyongyang’s earlier statements, fueling concerns for further tests.
“If it was a high-standard test North Korea claimed, it should have been more than 10 kilotons, but it fell short of that mark. It is lower even than the explosive power (Seoul) has been estimating” an anonymous military official was quoted as by local news agency. The high-standard test refers to Pyongyang’s Jan. 24 threat of conducting a “high-standard nuclear test aimed at the United States.”
“There were analysis that North Korea could use a boosted fission weapon but the yield falls far short of a boosted fission weapon.”
According to data collected by South Korean authorities, the nuclear test generated seismic activity of 4.9 magnitude, which is estimated to equate to yield of between 6 and 7 kilotons. Seoul, however, had initially said that an artificial earthquake of magnitude 5 was detected and that estimated yield of the device to be about 10 kilotons.
In comparison, the first nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang in October 2006 generated 3.6 magnitude seismic activity and is estimated to have had a yield of 1 kiloton.
The yield of the device used in the second test of May 2009 is estimated to have ranged between 2 kilotons and 6 kilotons, and a 4.9 magnitude seismic activity was detected by South Korean authorities.
While the yield of the device used in the latest test was larger than those previously, it falls far short of the nuclear devices dropped on Japan in 1945.
The yield of the devices dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WWII were 22 kilotons and 13 kilotons, respectively.
North Korea, however, claimed that Tuesday’s test was of a “high-standard,” saying that the device used was smaller than those used in previous tests.
“Unlike previous times, a smaller and lighter nuclear bomb with more explosive power was used to conduct a high-standard nuclear test safely,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday. The agency also said that the test was conducted “perfectly without any negative impact on the surrounding environment.”