The international community has watched in dismay as U.S. President Donald “Dotard” Trump and North Korean leader “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un trade escalating taunts and insults. On Thursday evening, days after Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, Pyongyang responded by warning it might detonate a hydrogen bomb.
“It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific,” said North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, according to Yonhap News. “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”
While provocative rhetoric is not uncommon from North Korea, expert observers of that isolated nation warn that such a statement should not be taken lightly. It comes just weeks after the country conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, triggering sanctions and fierce condemnation from the United Nations Security Council.
Analysts estimate that the latest test, which North Korea claims was an H-bomb, was approximately 17 times as strong as the bomb that devastated the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. Yet as tensions rise, neither Kim nor Trump appears ready to back down or seek a diplomatic solution to the standoff.
Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 22, 2017
After more than a dozen North Korean missile launches and one nuclear test this year alone, what could happen next? And what might it mean for America and the world?
What Is An H-Bomb?
A hydrogen bomb is a thermonuclear weapon that fuses atoms to unleash an incredibly powerful blast, with a much greater energy yield than other nuclear weapons. The United States conducted the first full-scale test of such a bomb in 1952. The United Kingdom, China, France and Russia are also known to have tested hydrogen weapons.
Experts are urging international leaders not to underestimate the dangers of North Korea detonating an H-bomb over the Pacific.
“The risks of carrying a nuclear bomb and exploding it over the ocean are significantly greater than any other risk [Kim] has taken,” said Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington. “This is a very dangerous time in the relations between North Korea and the rest of the world.”
Such a detonation “would be a huge…