North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test on Friday morning, ignoring nearly worldwide anti-nuclear sanctions that have been placed on the isolated regime. According to monitors in the U.S., Japan, China and Europe, the test’s detonation resulted in a 5.3 magnitude explosion—the largest nuclear test in the young nation’s history.
The State TV of North Korea announced that the government’s fifth atomic test “put on a higher level [the nation’s] technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets,” NBC News reports. In other words, the North and Kim Jong Un claim they’ve figured out how to attach nuclear warheads onto missiles—an advance that threatens the entire international community.
All jokes and memes from The Interview aside, North Korea’s most recent nuclear detonation foreshadows the escalating threat of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Despite broad UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea following earlier atomic tests, the country continues to aggressively develop weapons and experiment with nuclear power.
The test, which took place on the nation’s 68th anniversary of its founding, likely served as a display of military power, in addition to other motives. Experts estimate that around 10 kilotons were detonated. This is less than the Hiroshima (15 kilotons) and Nagasaki (21 kilotons) atomic bombs, but still powerful enough to devastate a city. According to the BBC, the North said in a statement that it could produce “at will, and as many as it wants, a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.”
This claim has not been independently confirmed. Kim Byung-kee of South Korea, in a meeting with intelligence officials, claimed that weaponizing nuclear warheads would still take the North at least one or two more years, CNN reports. However, upon weaponization, there’s a huge potential for the East Asian nation to inflict a massive amount of damage on its neighboring enemies—including the Western coast of the U.S.—if nothing is done to halt the North’s nuclear progression.
“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” said President Obama in a statement. “Today's nuclear test, a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, makes clear North Korea's disregard for international norms and standards for behavior and demonstrates it has no interest in being a responsible member of the international community.”
South Korean President Park Guen-hye stated that the best path is even more sanctions against the North. “The only thing that [the] Kim Jong Un regime can gain from the nuclear tests is stronger sanctions from the international community and its isolation,” said Guen-hye, according to CNN. “Such provocation will eventually hasten its path to self-destruction.”
The U.S., South Korea, Russia, Japan, the UN and even China harshly denounced the nuclear test.