What Type Of Nuclear Weapon Did North Korea Just Detonate?

South Koreans watch a news report on the fifth North Korean nuclear weapons test. SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg/Getty Images

As concerning as North Korea’s ability to manufacture even low-yield atomic weapons is, there is a potentially greater environmental threat in the region that few tend to consider. A recent study revealed that Mt. Paektu, a sleeping volcano on the border between China and North Korea, is being disturbed by these underground tests.

January’s explosion sent shockwaves into Paektu’s magma chamber, about 116 kilometers (72 miles) away from the test site. Collectively, all these atomic bomb shockwaves are increasing the internal pressure of this hellish cache, and in the long-term, this could cause it to erupt.

If North Korea ever do develop a hydrogen bomb, it could generate an earthquake of up to 7.0M. Researchers say that this alone would be enough to cause the magma chamber to burst through the surrounding rock and explode onto the surface.

This volcano was once responsible for one of the largest eruptions in human history. If it goes off today, it won’t just devastate parts of North Korea and China – the whole planet will be blanketed in ash and the climate will be severely disrupted.

Already, Barack Obama has said that such provocative actions by the secretive communist state will have “serious consequences,” and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has once again described North Korea’s nuclear weapons program as a “grave threat.” The South Korean president Park Geun-hye accused Kim Jong-un of “maniacal recklessness.”

They don’t know how right they are.

North Korean soldiers march around Pyongyang on the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the Korean War. Astrelok/Shutterstock

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