On Tuesday, North Korea claimed it had successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb.
They made the announcement about an hour after detection services around the world recorded a 5.1 seismic event off its northeast coast.
“This is the self-defensive measure we have to take to defend our right to live in the face of the nuclear threats and blackmail by the United States and to guarantee the security of the Korean Peninsula,” a female North Korean announcer said, reading the statement on Central Television, the state-run network.
There is always some level of skepticism because of how isolated North Korea is.
However, if the claim is found to be accurate, this is its most significant threat to date.
Outside analysts took the claim as the latest of several hard-to-verify assertions that the isolated country has made about its nuclear capabilities. But some also said that although North Korea did not yet have H-bomb capability, it might be developing and preparing to test a boosted fission bomb, more powerful than a traditional nuclear weapon.
Weapon designers can easily boost the destructive power of an atom bomb by putting at its core a small amount of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen.
Lee Sang-cheol, the top nonproliferation official at the South Korean Defense Ministry, told a forum in Seoul last month that although Mr. Kim’s hydrogen bomb boasts might be propaganda for his domestic audience, there was a “high likelihood” that North Korea might have been developing such a boosted fission weapon.
And according to a paper obtained by the South Korean news agency Yonhap last week, the Chemical, Biological and Radiological Command of the South Korean military “did not rule out the possibility” of a boosted fission bomb test by the North, although it added it “does not believe it is yet capable of directly testing hydrogen bombs.”
The White House says the U.S. government’s early analysis of underground activity in North Korea “is not consistent” with that country’s claim of having conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test.
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