North Korea hydrogen bomb test: Experts cast doubt on country's claims

The dictatorship's claim to have successfully conducted its first H-bomb test has prompted panic around the world

Siobhan Fenton
Wednesday 06 January 2016 08:45
Screens in Seoul show the earthquake near North Korea's nuclear facility
Screens in Seoul show the earthquake near North Korea's nuclear facility

Experts have expressed scepticism over North Korea’s claims to have successfully conducted the country's first H-bomb test.

The country said that it completed its first test today, prompting panic in Japan and South Korea amid security concerns.

However, experts have cast doubt on the credibility of the claims. Yan Uk, senior research fellow at the Korea Defence and Security Forum, said: “Given the scale, it is hard to believe this is a real hydrogen bomb.

“They could have tested some middle stage kind [of device] between an A-bomb and a H-bomb, but unless they come up with any clear evidence, it is difficult to trust their claim.”

North Koreans watch a news broadcast announcing the reported weapons test in Pyongyang

Analyst Joe Cirincione, a nuclear expert at global security organisation Ploughshares Fund, expressed similar doubts and said that the dictatorship may have mixed a hydrogen isotope in a normal atomic fission bomb.

“Because it is, in fact, hydrogen, they could claim it is a hydrogen bomb. But it is not a true fusion bomb capable of the massive multi-megaton yields these bombs produce.”

South Korean intelligence officials have also questioned the veracity of the country’s claims. One South Korean lawmaker told Yonhap news agency that they had been informed in a private meeting by the country's spy agency that North Korea may not have conducted the test due to the relatively small size of the seismic wave reported.

North Korea allegedly test hydrogen bomb

If true, the news would mean that North Korea has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb and could launch long-range nuclear missiles.

The head of the UN Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation, which monitors worldwide for nuclear testing, says that if their claims are true North Korea would be in breach of the treaty and represent a grave threat to international peace and security.

With additional reporting by Reuters

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