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Russian experts doubt that North Korea tested hydrogen bomb

January 14, 2016, 17:19 UTC+3 MOSCOW

North Korea "is now thinking less about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula but increasingly more about strengthening its deterrence capabilities"

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© AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

MOSCOW, January 14. /TASS/. Russian experts have the unanimous opinion that North Korea tested a nuclear device rather than a hydrogen bomb in early January.

"The probability that North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb is minimal," Deputy Head of the Center for Euro-Atlantic and Defense Studies of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research Vladimir Novikov said at a roundtable discussion titled: "The North Korean Hydrogen Trace: Trying the Patience of the International Community," which was held on Thursday.

"This was most likely the test of a charge allowing for more effective use of the weapons-grade nuclear material, which can be easier mounted on a missile. North Korea tested some device that is required for further development of a nuclear warhead," the expert said.

According to Novikov, there is also another option: North Korea has not tested anything and is engaged in mystification.

Head of the Korea and Mongolia Section at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Vorontsov said that North Korea "is now thinking less about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula but increasingly more about strengthening its deterrence capabilities."

"The North Korean people’s resolve shows that Pyongyang is ready to ensure its defense capability in new conditions and raise the country’s prestige in the international community," the expert said.

Nuclear tests are "a means to confirm the fact that North Korea can defend itself against any aggression from outside," the expert said.

"North Korea shows that you can’t deal with it in a way similar to what is being done with Syria and Iraq," Vorontsov said.

"If an aggression is launched against them [North Korea], the response will be tough," the expert said.

"There should be response, although balanced, to North Korea’s nuclear test," former Russian ambassador to North Korea, Associate Professor of the Department of the Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Mongolian Languages at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Russian Foreign Ministry Valery Sukhinin said.

"No doubt, this step will be denounced," the expert added.

At the same time, it is necessary to restart the negotiation process on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the expert said.

"All the interested parties should be ready for the negotiations as there is no other way out," he noted.

North Korea announced on January 6 that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. Pyongyang said in a statement that the test had been carried out "exclusively for the purposes of self-defense for the reliable protection of the country’s sovereignty and the nation’s vital rights amid the growing nuclear blackmail and threats from the US-led forces alien to North Korea."

In recent years, North Korea has held three nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009 and 2013. In response, the UN Security Council imposed new or tightened existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

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