Did North Korea just test a hydrogen bomb?

The government of North Korea announced that they have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, hundreds of times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

But there is plenty of skepticism in the West about that claim, as experts cite the difficulty the North Koreans have had in testing a plutonium-based bomb.

Still, there is seismic evidence that a huge underground explosion occurred near the Chinese border.

CNN:

In the past, North Korea has tested fission weapons, which break large atoms like plutonium, into smaller atoms, creating considerable energy.

Fusion weapons, such as hydrogen bombs, use fusion to combine small atoms -- such as hydrogen -- to create much larger amounts of energy.

Nuclear weapons based on fission typically have a yield of around 10 kilotons, while nuclear weapons employing fusion can have a yield measured in megatons.

A hydrogen bomb is hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

The North Koreans have signaled for some time the test was a possibility, said Mike Chinoy, with the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California.

"Kim Jong Un made public statement a few weeks ago saying that (the country was) developing a hydrogen bomb."

But, said Bruce Bennett, North Korea's claims ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Rand Corp.

"North Korea appears to have had a difficult time mastering even the basics of a fission weapon," he said. "This suggests that unless North Korea has had help from outside experts, it is unlikely that it has really achieved a hydrogen/fusion bomb since its last nuclear test, just short of three years ago."

Indeed, it would be a huge leap forward.  Fusion weapons use the massive heat from a fission weapon to fuse the hydrogen atoms that then release enormous amounts of energy.  What country would be stupid enough to give the unbalanced child tyrant the know-how to build this weapon?  

China, Russia, Pakistan – the list is a short one.  But before the guessing game gets underway, Western experts are going to have to figure out if the seismic signature matches that of a hydrogen bomb, confirming the claim made by the North Korean government or proving them liars.

The Obama administration dropped the ball on this one.  They've been so eager to crow about their "success" in restraining Iran that they apparently forgot about the even more dangerous and crazy regime in North Korea.  Just what have we been doing as the NoKos assembled the material necessary to build an H-bomb?

You don't go into a hardware store and buy this stuff off the shelf.  If the test was of a hydrogen bomb, the North was somehow able to smuggle in machinery and parts without our knowledge – or at least, without our protests.  It raises the question: if we can't keep track of what North Korea is doing, how are we supposed to track what Iran is up to?

The government of North Korea announced that they have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, hundreds of times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

But there is plenty of skepticism in the West about that claim, as experts cite the difficulty the North Koreans have had in testing a plutonium-based bomb.

Still, there is seismic evidence that a huge underground explosion occurred near the Chinese border.

CNN:

In the past, North Korea has tested fission weapons, which break large atoms like plutonium, into smaller atoms, creating considerable energy.

Fusion weapons, such as hydrogen bombs, use fusion to combine small atoms -- such as hydrogen -- to create much larger amounts of energy.

Nuclear weapons based on fission typically have a yield of around 10 kilotons, while nuclear weapons employing fusion can have a yield measured in megatons.

A hydrogen bomb is hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

The North Koreans have signaled for some time the test was a possibility, said Mike Chinoy, with the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California.

"Kim Jong Un made public statement a few weeks ago saying that (the country was) developing a hydrogen bomb."

But, said Bruce Bennett, North Korea's claims ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Rand Corp.

"North Korea appears to have had a difficult time mastering even the basics of a fission weapon," he said. "This suggests that unless North Korea has had help from outside experts, it is unlikely that it has really achieved a hydrogen/fusion bomb since its last nuclear test, just short of three years ago."

Indeed, it would be a huge leap forward.  Fusion weapons use the massive heat from a fission weapon to fuse the hydrogen atoms that then release enormous amounts of energy.  What country would be stupid enough to give the unbalanced child tyrant the know-how to build this weapon?  

China, Russia, Pakistan – the list is a short one.  But before the guessing game gets underway, Western experts are going to have to figure out if the seismic signature matches that of a hydrogen bomb, confirming the claim made by the North Korean government or proving them liars.

The Obama administration dropped the ball on this one.  They've been so eager to crow about their "success" in restraining Iran that they apparently forgot about the even more dangerous and crazy regime in North Korea.  Just what have we been doing as the NoKos assembled the material necessary to build an H-bomb?

You don't go into a hardware store and buy this stuff off the shelf.  If the test was of a hydrogen bomb, the North was somehow able to smuggle in machinery and parts without our knowledge – or at least, without our protests.  It raises the question: if we can't keep track of what North Korea is doing, how are we supposed to track what Iran is up to?