By Nishi Naik
(TEANECK) – It seems banning the internet, alcohol and blue jeans weren’t enough for North Korea to create chaos. On Sept. 9, North Korea also conducted its fifth underground nuclear test – the second one of the year – which raised high tensions and concerns across the world.
North Korea has previously tested nuclear weapons in Jan of this year, Feb. 2013, May 2009 and Oct. 2006. The latest nuclear test not only raised many doubts and questions, but also indicated that the country is trying to build up its nuclear weaponry.
The recent test, shows North Korea’s progress towards a building a “functional nuclear warhead,” as the underground test created a “5.3 magnitude earthquake, northwest of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site,” South Korea’s military officials said.
One official said this nuclear test was the “most powerful detonating test conducted by North Korea,” and that “the blast itself was larger than the blast of the fourth test conducted in Jan. 2016.”
According to the South Korean Meteorological Agency (SKMA), this nuclear test suggested a “10 kiloton blast, which would be the isolated nation’s largest ever” nuclear bomb, compared to the January test, “which resulted in a blast of six to nine kilotons”.
However, Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies believes this test produced a seismic activity of 20-30 kilotons, and if right, this test would be “larger than the nuclear bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in World War II, and possibly even larger than the one dropped on Nagasaki soon after,” he told Reuters.
The test was conducted on Sept. 9 in honor of North Korea’s Foundation Day. North Korea’s first test coincided with Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
In addition to the continuation of the nuclear test, the country has also been involved in launching a series of ballistic missiles. According to South Korean and U.S. officials, the missiles were intended to carry nuclear warheads, small and sturdy enough to travel a long distance through Earth’s atmosphere.
On Sept. 23, North Korea boasted that “they have successfully demonstrated country’s preparation for retaliation against its enemies, chiefly the United States of America.”
North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, justified North Korea’s nuclear test as a self-defending strategy against the other “hostile” nuclear countries. He later also “warned the United States of unimaginable consequences in response to the deployment of U.S. B-1B bombers to South Korea this week.”
This so-called patriotic action by North Korea created conflict with many other countries. The fifth nuclear test is still being “condemned universally and has prompted the United States, Japan and South Korea to call for tougher sanctions at the U.N. Security Council”, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
Feared by the country’s new testing advances and constant nuclear threats, North Korea’s neighbor Japan feels highly threatened, as “at least two missiles tests have been launched in Japan’s direction in recent months,” Japan’s Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said.
Along with Japan, South Korea has also demonstrated fear from the events and expressed condemnment to North Korea’s nuclear tests of all sorts.
According to South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who described the North’s actions as “maniacal recklessness,” he held an unscheduled phone call with Barack Obama to discuss the issue and to gain support from the United States.