Although Kim Jong-un has repeatedly flaunted the military prowess of his nuclear-armed state, it still came as a surprise when the North Korean leader announced the country has developed hydrogen bomb.
“We have managed to become a great nuclear power capable of protecting the independence and national dignity of our Motherland with the might of strikes by nuclear and hydrogen bombs,” the Supreme Leader was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. He also noted “the country needs to bolster its defense sector.”
The announcement came during an inspection visit to the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site, a military site home to the country’s first arms firm built in 1945.
“Kim has revealed on a number of occasions that North Korea possesses nuclear bombs. But this appears to be the first time that he talked about an H-bomb,” explained Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies. However, Lee Chun-geun, research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, was cautious.
“It's hard to regard North Korea as possessing an H-bomb. I think it seems to be developing it,” he told Korea Times.
In 2003, Pyongyang pulled out from the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an agreement that aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Following the hermit nation’s withdrawal, Russia, China, the United States, South Korea and Japan launched the Six-Party Talks to discuss the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Since then, the country has tested three atomic devices that relied on nuclear fission. Since hydrogen uses fusion in a chain reaction, it results in a more powerful and destructive explosion — a fact that would definitely give nightmares to world powers if proven true.
North Korea's nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 were with plutonium devices, while its third test in 2013 was believed to have used uranium.