The hydrogen bomb: A devastating nuclear weapon

“This is not just a game changer, it’s a game over.”


On Sunday (3 Sep), North Korea announced that it has successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb.

Upon detonating the bomb, tremors of up to 6.3-magnitude could be felt across its city of Kimchaek.

But what exactly is a hydrogen bomb? We break down the differences between a typical atomic bomb and its more deadly counterpart.

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One core difference between them is the detonation process. Hydrogen bombs utilize fusion to produce explosions – this is achieved when atomic nuclei come together.

Atomic bombs, on the other hand, detonate though fission or ‘atom-splitting’.

This difference is what causes the hydrogen bomb, or H-bomb for short, to be 1,000 times more powerful.


H-bombs while potent, costs more to manufacture.

However, in an interview with Aljazeera, Andrei Lankov, a professor of Korean studies at Kookmin University in Seoul, explained that using such an expensive weapon would be tantamount to “an overkill”.

“It’s like buying a Porsche to go shopping in a shop nearby… It’s a very expensive programme which will not really make a major contribution towards their security. But governments sometimes do crazy things.”

– Kookmin University Korean studies professor, Andrei Lankov


Once ready for launching, the H-bomb is more portable and could fit easily on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

And if it does land on target, its effects would cause absolute chaos and destruction.

As an example for scale – while an atomic bomb might decimate half of Manhattan, a H-bomb could easily wipe out New York city in its entirety.

For Kune Y Suh, a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University, North Korea’s message and status is clear.

“North Korea has effectively established itself as a nuclear state. This is not just a game changer, it’s a game over.”

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