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Last Updated : Sep 05, 2017 06:56 PM IST | Source:

DATA STORY: How terrifying is North Korea’s nuclear threat?

North Korea's missiles have a range of starting from 150 kilometres to upwards of 10,400 kilometres.

Representative image
Representative image

In another belligerent act of defiance, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday at its Punggye-ri test site.

Even before a formal announcement came from Pyongyang, Japanese and South Korean meteorologists had figured out what the hermit nation was up to after a shallow earthquake was detected near the test site.

The US Geological Survey measured the earthquake at 6.3 on the Richter scale – this was around 10 times more powerful than what had occurred during its previous detonations.

A report by North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA later said that its hydrogen bomb test was "true to the Workers' Party of Korea's plan for building a strategic nuclear force".

North Korea’s hunger for power is evident and it does have nuclear weapons in its arsenal. But how dangerous is the threat?

Infographic: The North Korean Missile Threat | Statista

North Korea's missiles have a range of starting from 150 kilometres to upwards of 10,400 kilometres. The Hwasong-14, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), can cover a large chunk of the globe.

All of India, including the metro cities and the capital New Delhi, is well within the reach of its ICBMs and some Intermediate-range Ballistic Missiles.

This also means cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, Dubai, Sydney and Tokyo are all under threat.

Hence, if North Korea chooses to launch a missile, it could well cause widespread damage. This leads to the question about how powerful are the isolated nation's nukes.

Growing arsenal

According to the data collated by Statista sourced from CSIS and The Economist, North Korea's most recent nuclear test on September 3, 2017 was 100 kilotons strong which is also the country's most powerful yet.

Infographic: North Korea Tests Its Most Powerful Bomb Yet | Statista

There is no information on how many such weapons North Korea possesses but most estimates put North Korea's total number of nuclear weapons anywhere between 12 and 60 - enough to create chaos in any part of the world.

Moreover, there's again a dearth of information about whether these are atomic bombs or Hydrogen bombs (H-bombs) - which are more destructive.

H-bombs use fusion or merging of atoms that lead humongous amounts of energy released whereas atomic bombs use fission or splitting of atoms.

The most recent test by North Korea, as claimed by its state-run news agency, was an H-bomb. North Korea also claimed that a test it conducted in 2016 was an H-bomb as well. All its previous tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 were atomic bombs.

Countries around the world including India, the US, China and Russia have condemned North Korea's nuclear test.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley came out with a comment on Monday saying that the North Korea is "begging for a war".

South Korean media citing an unidentified intelligence source has reported that North Korea was on Monday seen moving a missile towards its west coast where it has its test facilities.

The world watches with bated breath.
First Published on Sep 5, 2017 04:32 pm
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