On September 3, North Korea claimed to have conducted a successful nuclear blast and said it was a major advancement when compared to its previous tests. The reason, North Korea said, was that it could now detonate a Hydrogen bomb. But how is it different from an atomic bomb, and is there a reason for the US to worry? N Korea, for a long time, has been trying to find out ways to send an atomic bomb to its biggest enemy, the US. The bombs are meant to be carried by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). But the interesting thing this time around is that the country has claimed to be able to load a Hydrogen bomb into those missiles. To put it simply, H-bombs are way more powerful than the usual atomic bomb. When compared to the atomic bomb which the US dropped in Japan during WWII, a Hydrogen bomb can be a thousand times more powerful.
To understand both the bombs, one should know how do nuclear bombs work? These weapons basically use destructive energy in atoms present inside bombs to trigger explosive reactions. During the World War II, the US used fission, where it split plutonium and uranium atoms. This reaction set sub atomic neutrons free and they, in turn, attacked other atoms to create a huge blast. When it comes to the hydrogen bomb it uses fusion reactions to create explosions. H-bomb, also known as thermonuclear bomb merges atomic nuclei to cause the reaction. To provide a perspective, stars get energy using fusion. Meanwhile, atom bombs split the atoms to make explosions. This is similar to what is done in nuclear power plants. Before Sunday, North Korea’s tests were purely atomic bombs, similar to the ones used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that killed over 2 lakh people. Compared to its immediate last nuclear test in 2016, N Korea’s this blast was estimatedly 10 times more powerful.
A hydrogen bomb is capable of destruction on a much larger scale, mainly because of the level of sophistication it can attain. While an atomic bomb can kill half a town, an H bomb can evaporate a city as big as New Delhi.
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Experts, however, are of the view that N Korea may have been exaggerating about the test since the H bomb test is too costly an affair for a country like that to invest in. So far, only the US, France, Russia, China and the UK are known to have such capabilities. However, despite efforts of proliferation, there maybe other countries which have been working on this technology.
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Some experts say that the N Korea’s test was just a ‘boosted atomic bomb’, which is the second stage in achieving an H bomb. Analysts have said that N Korea simply used more thermonuclear fuel to increase destructive power. This is the same thing which an H bomb does, but with Hydrogen atoms. This is the process which continuously occurs inside the Sun. Hydrogen is much lighter than say Uranium, so it is able to create tremendous pulse near the heart of the bomb. This explosion adds to the Uranium reactions at the outer core. If North Korea has actually been able to create such a bomb, the US should be really worried as such a bomb is so sophisticated, that it can fit at the tip of a missile too.