North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to say his country has developed a hydrogen bomb, which is more powerful than an atomic bomb, but the United States and outside experts were skeptical.
Kim made the comments as he toured the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site, which marks the feats of his father who died in 2011 and his grandfather, state founder and eternal president, Kim Il-sung, Reuters said, citing a report from the official KCNA news agency.
The work of Kim Il-sung “turned the DPRK into a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation”, KCNA quoted Kim Jong-un as saying.
DPRK are the initials of the isolated North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
A hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear bomb, uses more advanced technology to produce a significantly more powerful blast than an atomic bomb.
North Korea conducted underground tests to set off nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013, for which it has been subject to UN Security Council sanctions banning trade and financing activities that aid its weapons program.
In Washington, the White House said it was doubtful that North Korea had developed a hydrogen bomb, but said Pyongyang remained a threat.
“At this point, the information that we have access to calls into serious question those claims, but we take very seriously the risk and the threat that is posed by the North Korean regime in their ambitions to develop a nuclear weapon,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a regular briefing.
The US State Department repeated a call on North Korea to comply with its international obligations and abandon all nuclear weapons.
An official at South Korea’s intelligence agency told Yonhap news agency there was no evidence that the North had hydrogen bomb capacity, and believed Kim was speaking rhetorically.
The Foreign Ministry in China, North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, said China was dedicated to ensuring the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and resolving problems through talks.
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