PYONGYANG – The North Korean government claimed on Wednesday it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
The announcement has drawn skepticism and condemnations among world leaders and, if the claims happen to be true, North Korea would have taken a huge step forward in its nuclear capability and that will implicate several international violations.
The announcement of what the North Korean government named an “H-bomb of justice” was broadcast on state-run television and the official Central News Agency said in a statement that the country needed the weapon in order to defend itself against the United States.
What Pyongyang claimed was an exponentially more powerful hydrogen bomb would be its fourth test carried out since 2006. The device was detonated at the North Korea’s main nuclear test site located in Punggye-ri, where the three previous nuclear tests had executed.
However, the South Korean military and nuclear experts affirm that the explosion was actually very similar to that of the previous atomic tests, rather than a tremendous thermonuclear blast. Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., said that the explosion was not enormous and suggested it was not a hydrogen bomb. And according to South Korean lawmakers, the blast had a yield of about 6 kilotons, about the same size as the atomic test North Korea carried out in 2013.
Regardless of the kind of nuclear bomb, world leaders see Pyongyang’s action as a provocative measure, since they have been trying for years to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.
The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting in New York to exchange views regarding the international response to the nuclear test. The three previous tests have led to several resolutions and sanctions, but have clearly not stopped Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye put her military on alert and said North Korea would pay the price for the nuclear test. In Tokio, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that his government would take severe measures in response to what he described as a “major threat” to the national security.
The United States declared it was monitoring the situation and condemned any violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. would not accept North Korea as a nuclear state and reassured American support to its allies in the region. He affirmed there would be an appropriate response to Pyongyang’s provocations.
Although China and Russia have both been the closest thing North Korea has to allies, both nations’ leaders condemned the test. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that the country will support the goal of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.
The U.N. Security Council has passed four resolutions since 2006 to sanction North Korea for its nuclear weapons program. The organism has prohibited the country from executing further nuclear tests or launching ballistic missiles, as well as it has ordered it to give up any future efforts to seek nuclear weapons and required it to return to six-party talks with Russia, China, Japan, the United States and South Korea, its enemy since 1945.
Moreover, the United States has imposed strict economic sanctions, which combined with U.N. penalizations have severely hit North Korea’s economy. The American sanctions have frozen every North Korean property interest in the U.S. and blocked the majority of imports of goods and services from the North. Although the U.S. does not prohibit the export of food and other kinds of humanitarian aid, there still are some restrictions.
All the international resolutions combined include embargoes on large-scale arms, research and materials related to weapon development, and luxury goods. A great number of financial transactions such as transfers of cash are also banned, among other sanctions. Further and stricter resolutions are expected after Wednesday’s nuclear test.
Source: Washington Post