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Monday, 21. August 2017

Medact article, March 3, 2016

North Korea tests nuclear weapon and fires missile

Flag of North Korea, Creative Commons CC.0, pixabay

On January 6th 2016, North Korea announced its successful detonation of a ‘hydrogen bomb’ in its fourth nuclear-bomb test. Seismic detectors around the world revealed a 5.1 magnitude earthquake centred on the county’s only nuclear test site, at Punggye-ri. The estimated yield of about 10Kt was less than what might be expected from a full-blown hydrogen bomb; some experts (such as Frank von Hippel) feel that it was really a ‘boosted’ fission bomb amplified by a deuterium/tritium fuse to increase the yield of fission-inducing neutrons. But this development marked a significant step towards weapons-miniaturisation and hence missile carriage.

On 7th February 2016 North Korea launched into space a three-stage missile with a payload of 200Kg which they claimed was a satellite put into orbit (such satellites normally weigh 800 to 1500 Kg). (For comparison, UK Trident D5 missiles have three stages and a MIRV (multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicle) payload of classified weight with up to, possibly, eight warheads each weighing 164 Kg and a minimum range of 7800 km.) As yet, the North Koreans have not yet developed a targetable re-entry system, which would be a very significant development.

This article has been written by Dr Frank Boulton – an active Medact member and Trustee with a long-standing interest and considerable experience of the nuclear weapons debate.

 

 

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