North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test Revised Estimate – 250 kilotons

Revised Magnitude Estimates Raise the Equivalent Yield to Approximately One Quarter of a Megaton

At the time of 38 North’s first report on the sixth nuclear test, the preliminary seismic magnitude estimates varied from 5.8, as published by both the CTBTO and NORSAR, to 6.3 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). More recently, both the CTBTO and NORSAR have officially revised their estimates upward 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). This large explosive yield is also quite close to what 38 North had previously determined to be the maximum estimated containable yield for the Punggye-ri test site.

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