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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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North Korea claims to have ready-to-detonate hydrogen bomb

China is North Korea’s closest ally

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SEOUL, South Korea - In yet another unsubstantiated warning to the West and its regional allies, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has that it has a ready-to-detonate hydrogen bomb "defend its sovereignty and the dignity".

According to the official Korea Central News Agency, Kim made the remarks during a tour to the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site in central Pyongyang where his late grandfather Kim Il Sung test-fired a sub-machine gun at the shooting range after the division of the Korean Peninsula in 1945.

Kim Il Sung and the current leader's father Kim Jong Il visited the site many times marking military feats of the dead leaders.

"If we struggle in the same spirit with which the workers produced sub-machine guns by their own efforts just after the liberation of the country, when everything was in need, we can further build up our country into a powerful one no enemy dares provoke," the Korean news agency recounted Kim Jong Un as saying.

He stressed the need to develop the country's munitions industry, the report said.

The work of Kim Il Sung "turned [the nation] into a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant [atomic] bomb and [hydrogen] bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation," Kim Jong Un reportedly said during his visit this week.

It is the first time the regime, which has already conducted three atomic tests, has claimed to have built a hydrogen bomb. Also known as a thermonuclear bomb, a hydrogen bomb produces a much stronger blast than an atomic one.

But neighboring South Korean intelligence specialists dismissed the claim as rhetoric.

"We don't have any information that North Korea has developed an H-bomb," South Korean Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying.

"We do not believe that North Korea, which has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear bombs, has the technology to produce an hydrogen bomb."

Photos from KCNA showed Kim Jong Un inspecting rifles inside a building, and speaking outside the building, his aides with notebooks at the ready to take down his every word.

North Korea has in the past has made several such military claims. But none of these assertions have proved substantial.

The reclusive nation in the past said it could launch a submarine ballistic missile, had made nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile and had restarted its key nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.

China on Thursday reacted to the latest claims with caution.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is very delicate, complex and fragile," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Huan Chunying told reporters.

"We hope all concerned will make effort that contributes to peace and stability," Huan said, avoiding a direct reply to a question about the hydrogen bomb claim.

China is North Korea's closest ally.

A South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson said the country's military didn't have any intelligence on its neighbor's hydrogen bomb claim.

"We are closely monitoring and tracking any and all of North Korea's nuclear activities," the official added. "So far, we have not noticed any unusual movements or activities."> BNN

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