“North Korea has taught a great lesson to all the countries in the world, especially the rogue countries of dictatorships or whatever: if you don’t want to be invaded by America, get some nuclear weapons.” -Michael Moore
Last year, North Korea claimed to have obtained the technology to create a nuclear fusion bomb: the most destructive weapon humanity has ever engineered. This year, they’re threatening to use them, against either South Korea or the United States, depending on the moment in question. Yet these grandiose claims are questionable, and not merely because of the questionable source. From a scientific perspective, we know that North Korea hasn’t demonstrated the capability of doing so.
International nuclear test monitoring system, showcasing the five major types of test and the locations of each station. All told, there are 337 active stations at present. Credit: CTBTO.
When a nuclear device goes off, even underground, it creates a particular pattern of seismic waves that can be picked up by detectors worldwide. Different from earthquakes, it tells us the bomb’s origin, three-dimensional location on Earth, and its magnitude. North Korea has detonated weapons recently: in 2006, 2013, and just last year. Yet, despite their claims, all the ...