North Korea does not like to be ignored for too long. The latest bid for attention from the nightmarish regime of Kim Jong-Un is the claim that his scientists have developed a hydrogen bomb, which would be a dramatic upgrade from the crude atomic weapons they have so far created.
Reuters reports Kim making this claim during a tour of the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site, which is dedicated to the “achievements” of his despotic family. Here the current North Korean dictator credited his grandfather, “eternal president” Kim Il Sung, with transforming the country 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.”
South Korean intelligence says there is “no evidence that the North had hydrogen bomb capacity, and believed Kim was speaking rhetorically,” according to a Yonhap News Agency report related by Reuters. However, analysts believe North Korea is working to improve the quality of its nuclear arsenal, and could have made significant improvements less dramatic than developing H-bomb technology.
More skepticism comes from the Washington Post, which quotes North Korea nuclear weapons expert Daniel Pinkston saying it was “virtually impossible” for the communist country to produce a hydrogen bomb.
Lee Chun-geun, research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, said it was “hard to regard North Korea as possessing an H-bomb,” but thought Pyongyang “seems to be developing it,” according to USA Today.
However, it appears the North Korean government is up to something at their nuclear test site, constructing a new tunnel that could be used for a nuclear weapons test next year – their first since 2013. Satellite surveillance also suggests there has been construction activity at the main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.