World Not Quite Convinced by North Korea’s Claim It Has a New Hydrogen Bomb

By
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Songdowon International Children's Camp, as its remodelling project nears completion, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 21, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA - RTR3M2A4
Photo: KCNA / Reuters

The Korean Central News Agency — the official news provider in the North — reports that Kim Jong-un said his country is “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.” It appears to be the first time that Kim has ever mentioned a hydrogen bomb. 

This would be very bad news if true. However, most North Korea experts reacted to the statement with analysis best summed up as “pics or it didn’t happen.” This is a country that bragged it found the cure to HIV, Ebola, and “a number of cancers” only a few months ago. 

Academics told news outlets that the claim was “virtually impossible,” “unlikely,” and “preposterous”; in the words of one expert, “there’s no way for us to believe it is true.”

A South Korean official told Yonhap, the country’s largest news agency“We don’t have any information that North Korea has developed an H-bomb. We do not believe that North Korea, which has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear bombs, has the technology to produce an H-bomb.”