The website 38 North said it is significant that relevant agencies, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, revised upward their initial estimates of the seismic magnitude of North Korea's sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 from 5.8 to 6.1.
"This revision is significant because, rather than providing an equivalent yield of about 120 kilotons derived from the lower magnitude estimates, the application of standard formula with appropriate constants shows that the yield can now be estimated to have been roughly 250 kilotons (one quarter megaton)," it said in an analysis.
This yield is close to what 38 North previously estimated to be the maximum containable yield for the test site in Punggye-ri, northeastern North Korea, it added.
It also increases the danger of the regime's ballistic missile program.
"Regardless of whether this most recent test was an operational warhead for an ICBM or simply a device, the yield of the test clearly shows North Korean progress in increasing the yields of their nuclear weapons," the analysis said. "The significance of this is that it has the potential to dramatically increase the threat posed by its Strategic Force (responsible for ballistic missiles) as individual nuclear warheads potentially now have 10-times (or more) greater destructive power."
North Korea would need fewer nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy a given target. With the current missile inventory, it could also target larger areas.
"If the claim that the device just tested has a variable yield is true (from tens to hundreds of kilotons), then this may also imply the North Koreans intend to adopt an expanded policy of using nuclear weapons, including tactical use, in addition to deterring threats to existence of the state," 38 North said. "By doing so, they would join countries such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, etc. that have policies regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons, clearly further destabilizing the Korean peninsula situation." (Yonhap)