In a commentary feature on its website, North Korea’s state media outlet boasted that its nation’s scientists are in “high spirits” to detonate nuclear weapons capable of destroying America “all at once.”
The statement follows the detonation of a weapon last week the North Korean government claimed was a hydrogen bomb, but nuclear physics experts have posited was more likely to have been a weaker hybrid atomic weapon.
“The scientists and technicians of the DPRK are in high spirit to detonate H-bombs of hundreds of Kt and Mt level capable of wiping out the whole territory of the U.S. all at once as it persistently moves to stifle the DPRK, cradle of life and happiness of its people, if only there are no geographical restrictions and provided the territory is vast,” an article titled “KCNA Commentary Lauds H-bomb Test” reads on the Korean Central News Agency’s website. The article claims that various officials and personalities “of over 100 countries of the world are supporting the DPRK and admiring the spectacular nuclear scientific and technological successes made by it,” claiming even Americans are “acknowledging the remarkable progress made in the nuclear science and technology of the DPRK.”
In reality, American nuclear experts have stated that they believe the North Korean hydrogen bomb is a fraud. “How could a thermonuclear blast trigger such a weak seismic signal?” Kenneth W. Ford, who worked on building America’s first hydrogen bomb, told the New York Times. “Even a failed hydrogen bomb test would have a yield of 10, 20, 50 kilotons of force. This is a 6-7 kiloton yield, smaller than the last test,” global security firm head Joseph Cirincione told NBC News. It was not very big,” Philip Coyle, former director of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada, told the Los Angeles Times.
North Korea has nonetheless flooded its official propaganda outlets with praise for dictator Kim Jong-un and photographs of celebrations regarding the nuclear explosion. Most recently, Kim appeared at what is being described as an awards ceremony for the scientists who “contributed to demonstrating the dignity and might of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea through Juche Korea’s first successful H-bomb.” The ceremony “took place with splendor,” and Kim thanked the scientists for “conducting painstaking inquiry and showing patriotic loyalty.”
Rodong Sinmun, the state newspaper, has noted on multiple occasions that the hydrogen bomb test was an explicit threat to the United States. “The DPRK’s access to smaller H-bomb of justice to cope with the moves of the brigandish U.S. to provoke a war of aggression against the inviolable DPRK, while threatening it with nuclear weapons, is the legitimate right of a sovereign state for self-defense and a very just step no one can slander,” one column declares, praising the “indigenous wisdom” that went into its development.
Following the announcement of the successful detonation, North Korea also showcased a man they claim is a U.S. citizen, currently imprisoned in North Korea for allegedly working as a South Korean spy. North Korea allowed Kim Dong Chul to speak to CNN, but only in Korean (Kim speaks fluent English) and only in the presence of North Korean soldiers. “I’m asking the U.S. or South Korean government to rescue me,” he told the American news outlet, confessing to working for Seoul by “taking photos of military secrets and ‘scandalous’ scenes.” American officials have yet to verify whether Kim is an American citizen or comment on the matter.
The United States responded to the initial bomb announcement by flying B-52 bomber close to the North Korean border. South Korea has begun propaganda broadcasts into North Korea, featuring disparaging information about Kim as well as Korean soap operas and pop music. Envoys from both nations met, along with Japan, to discuss a more direct response to North Korea.
North Korea’s latest threat follows the abduction of ten U.S. Navy sailors by the government of Iran on Tuesday, hours before President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps militants seized two Navy ships and confiscated their GPS equipment. The Iranian government freed the sailors Wednesday morning, claiming the United States had “apologized” for the incident.