The Possibly 'World-Changing' Move Kim Could Make Next

North's foreign minister says they could detonate hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2017 7:44 AM CDT
North Korea: We Could Test Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific
In this Thursday photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to President Trump's speech to the United Nations.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Tensions between the US and North Korea continue to escalate. First the leader of the former threatened to wipe out the latter. Then Kim Jong Un followed up by calling Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard," and Trump capped that off with a new warning Friday, tweeting that Kim "will be tested like never before!" But the North this week also suggested a move that goes beyond words—and could lead to a "lot of dead fish": detonating a nuclear bomb a few hundred miles over the Pacific Ocean, per Reuters. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho dropped hints on a South Korean news channel (his own apparent musings, not official word from Kim) that the North may conduct "a historic aboveground test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean," per the Wall Street Journal.

Yang Uk, a Korea Defense and Security Forum researcher, tells Reuters that North Korea "may be bluffing"—or seeking an excuse, like Trump's words, for a test. The last time a nation experimented with an atmospheric detonation was in 1980, when China did so. MIT professor Vipin Narang says such a move would be "provocative" and, if anything goes awry, a possibly "world-changing event." Radioactive fallout would be a danger—though Narang says it may not be so bad if the detonation took place high enough—as would the effects of electromagnetic pulses. A US missile analyst tells the Journal North Korea could also pack a hydrogen bomb on a ship and set it off in the sea. (Here's what "dotard" means.)

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