Two developments on the North Korean front: sobering confirmation of how just how powerful the last test was, and more words of caution from Vladimir Putin. In an analysis for 38 North, three scientists say commercial satellite images taken a day after the test show several landslides around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. "These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than what we have seen from any of the five tests North Korea previously conducted," they write. High-resolution images yet to come should shed more light. The most recent estimate on the magnitude of the blast is 5.9, suggesting a 120-kiloton yield six times greater than the North's fifth test, conducted last year, and eight times greater than the Hiroshima bomb.
"The main point: this was a huge explosion, probably hundreds of kilotons, and larger than any of those conducted by the Soviet Union and the United States since 1976," Columbia scientist Paul Richards tells Popular Mechanics. Putin, meanwhile, met with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in Russia and said afterward that the world must be cautious about pushing North Korea "into a corner," per CNN. He again urged negotiations, saying that “it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” reports Reuters. Moon, for his part, cautioned that if Pyongyang's "provocation doesn't stop here, I think could fall into an uncontrollable situation." (Don't be surprised if the North conducts another test on Sept. 9.)