In light of the past

<p></p> <p> Following news of North Korea&rsquo;s recent surprise test of a nuclear weapon, it turns out that test is a mere drop in the bucket in the history of high payload nuclear tests.</p> <p> Experts estimate the explosion to have had a nuclear yield of &ldquo;several kilotons&rdquo; &ndash; a kiloton refers to energy output equal to 1,000 tons of dynamite.</p> <p> For comparison, the largest hydrogen bomb test explosions measure in megatons &ndash; millions of tons of dynamite.</p>

#10: Ivy Mike

<p></p> <p> On Halloween, 1952, American scientists tested the first hydrogen bomb on the Marshall Islands.</p> <p> According to the CTBTO, the Ivy Mike (M for megaton) test unleashed an explosion 700 more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.</p> <p> After the release of news footage of the blast, several world leaders in the U.S.S.R. and India protested further nuclear testing.</p> <p> Ivy Mike was followed by many other hydrogen bomb tests.</p> <p> Though multi-megaton nuclear testing has ceased at both Novaya Zelmya and the Bikini Atoll, the U.S. has maintained an active missile range at the Kwajalein atoll. It is now the home of the Ronald Regan Missile Testing Facility.</p> <p> Pictured here are recent photographs of the reentry of U.S. made Peacemaker missiles at the bombing site.</p> <p> The base&nbsp;provides &ldquo;unparalleled capabilities to optimize ballistic missile and ballistic missile interceptor testing,&rdquo; according to its website.</p> <p> Novaya Zemlya is also an active military installation.</p>

#9: Castle Romeo

<p></p> <p> Possibly, the most surprising of the tests, Castle Romeo surprised American scientists when its detonation yielded 11 megatons, making Romeo the third largest test ever detonated by the United States, according to the website nuclearweaponarchive.org</p> <p> &ldquo;The reason for this was that it used inexpensive and abundant unenriched natural lithium (7.5% Li-6) in the lithium deuteride fusion fuel. In fact as late as October 1953, Los Alamos was considering not even testing this device. The decision to include it was thought to be a crap-shoot to see if this cheap fusion fuel would be useful,&rdquo; according to the website.</p>

#8: Another NZ test

<p></p> <p> Novaya Zemlya, which also claims the #8 spot with an alleged 12.5-megaton explosion on Oct. 23, 1961, is still inhabited by military staff and civilians.</p> <p> Norway, just 900 km away, is very concerned with the testing at Novaya Zemlya and especially the radioactive waste sites surrounding it. It is also worried with the possibility the Barents Sea, home to most of Norway&rsquo;s fishing industry, could become polluted, according to <a href="http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/novalya.htm">Carrie McVicker</a> of American University.</p> <p> In the Arkhangelsk region, of which the island is a part, high numbers of people are dying prematurely of cancer prevail and many children born there are underdeveloped, according to McVicker.</p>

#7: Castle Yankee

<p></p> <p> The Castle Yankee test on 14 May 1954 on Bikini atoll yielded a 13.5-megaton explosion, making it the second largest nuclear test in U.S. history and the seventh largest in the world.</p> <p> This photo was taken from a height of approximately 12,000 feet and about 50 miles away from the detonation site. Two minutes after the detonation, the cloud rose to 40,000 feet &ndash; the height of 32 Empire State Buildings. Ten minutes late, as it neared its maximum the cloud stem had pushed upward about 25 miles, deep into the stratosphere.</p> <p> The mushroom portion went up to 10 miles, and spread for 100 miles, according to the National Security Archive.</p>

#6: Castle Bravo

<p></p> <p> Though the USSR holds the record for the most explosive nuclear test, the U.S. was the first nation to conduct multi-megaton nuclear weapons tests.</p> <p> The record for the largest explosion of a U.S. weapon goes to Castle Bravo, a 15 megaton bomb exploded February 28, 1954 at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.</p> <p> A United Nations report compiled by Russian authorities described the event as a &ldquo;flash of blinding light, like a raging fireball of intense heat as it shot upwards into the sky at 300 miles an hour.&rdquo;</p>

#2-#5: The NZ Tests

<p></p> <p> Tsar Bomba completely leveled the ground of the island where it was detonated. Everything in the area was melted and blown away, according to the CTBTO.</p> <p> The cataclysmic force of the bomb left a 3-mile-wide (5-kilometer-wide) gash in the mountain range of Novaya Zemlya, pictured above. The arctic island chain, whose name translates to &ldquo;New Land,&rdquo; sits between the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea.</p> <p> After Tsar Bomba, the soviet military conducted the next four most powerful nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya, a 24.2 megaton bomb detonated on Christmas Eve, 1962, and three other tests &ndash; &nbsp;also at Novaya Zemlya &ndash; &nbsp;from August to September of that year, with of bombs roughly 20 megatons in yield, according to astrophysicist <a href="http://www.johnstonsarchive.net">Robert Johnston</a>.</p>

#1: Tsar Bomba

<p></p> <p> The former USSR holds the record for the largest nuclear test, with the detonation of the 58 megaton behemoth Soviet designers dubbed &ldquo;Tsar Bomba&rdquo; or King Bomb.</p> <p> Pictured here is a replica housed at a Russian museum for nuclear arms.</p> <p> The explosion of Tsar Bomba on the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zelmya on Oct. 30 1961, was hot enough to induce third degree burns at distances of more than 60 miles (100 kilometers) away. The flash of light was so bright that it was visible at a distance of more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers), despite cloudy skies, according to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).</p>

The Top 10 Largest Nuclear Tests