Expert Warns Of 'Truly Terrifying' Risk Of Nuclear Tests In Pacific
As the rhetoric between the US and North Korea intensifies, concerns are growing that Kim Jong Un could be about to test a powerful hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.
The news came after an extraordinary slanging match between the two world leaders, in which President Donald Trump threatened to 'totally destroy' North Korea if Washington was forced to defend itself or its allies, prompting Kim Jong Un to call him a 'mentally deranged US dotard' who would 'pay dearly' for threatening to destroy his regime.
According South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said: "It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.
"We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong-un."
Trump tweeted in response on Friday, saying: "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!"
But if the test goes ahead and North Korea's claims about the bomb being the most powerful detonation the Pacific has ever seen, what does that mean for the rest of us?
Testing a nuclear device beyond NK's own territory would mark a major escalation in the row over the regime's nuclear weapons programme.
Experts have warned a nuclear test involving a missile could be disastrous if something goes wrong.
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"If the test doesn't go according to plan, you could have population at risk," nuclear strategy expert, Vipin Narang, told Business Insider.
"We are talking about putting a live nuclear warhead on a missile that has been tested only a handful of times. It is truly terrifying if something goes wrong."
If the bomb really is the most powerful ever to be tested in the Pacific, that means it would exceed the US' strongest-ever nuclear test explosion, when the 'Shrimp' was detonated on a platform in the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1954.
The blast, which took place about 2,300 miles southeast of Japan and 2,700 miles southwest of Hawaii, was the equivalent of setting off 5 million tons of TNT. Roughly 1,000 times as powerful the US attack on Hiroshima.
The test was hugely underestimated by researchers. About 200 billion tons of Bikini Atoll coral reef were destroyed by the fireball and the nuclear fallout caused many people to die from radiation sickness.
Even today, the 250-foot-deep, 1-mile-wide crater left by the test blast is visible from space.
If North Korea does decide to go ahead with the test, we can only hope it's not carried out quite so close to the ground.
Featured Image Credit: PA