Energy Released in North Korea's Bomb Test was 7.8 Times the Amount Released by the Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima

Energy Released in North Korea's Bomb Test was 7.8 Times the Amount Released by the Atomic Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima

The mountain where North Korea likely conducted its five most recent nuclear bomb tests could be at risk of collapse, potentially releasing radiation into the atmosphere, according to Chinese experts who measured shock waves caused by the blasts.

Scientists from the seismic and deep earth physics laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhu province, believe the most recent tests were carried out under a mountain at North Korea's Punggye-ri test site, according to a statement published on their website.

The group's leader, geophysicist Wen Lianxing, believes the margin of error for their prediction to be no more than 100 meters, citing data collected by more than 100 earthquake monitoring sites.

The data set includes an earthquake which was registered eight minutes after North Korea's latest launch on Sunday, which Chinese authorities deemed a cave-in triggered by the explosion.

According to Wen's team, the energy released in Sunday’s test was about 108.3 kilotons of TNT, or 7.8 times the amount released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, by the US in 1945. It far surpassed all previous bombs tested by Pyongyang.

However, a team of scientists in Norway estimated the bomb was even more powerful, as much as 10 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb.

The Chinese team's findings, if accurate, could mean a major environmental disaster is on its way, with the next test potentially causing the entire mountain to cave in on itself, according to Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and a senior researcher on China's nuclear weapons program.

That would leave a hole venting radiation across the entire region.

“We call it ‘taking the roof off’. If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things," Wang said, as quoted by the South China Morning Post.

 

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