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Expert says North Korea won’t test thermonuclear warhead in Pacific Ocean

September 25, 2017, 4:26 UTC+3 TOKYO

The question is "whether North Korea is capable of producing a nuclear warhead based on the information received during the sixth nuclear test," said Yu Koizumi

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© AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

TOKYO, September 25. /TASS/. North Korea does not currently have a hydrogen bomb small enough to be paced as a thermonuclear warhead on a ballistic missile and launched into the Pacific Ocean, Yu Koizumi, a research fellow at the Institute for Future Engineering, told TASS when asked to comment on North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s statement about a possible hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific.

While speaking about Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, conducted on September 3, he said that the explosion was powerful enough to have been caused by a hydrogen bomb. "Yes, I believe that it could have been a hydrogen bomb," Koizumi said. "At first, Japan’s defense minister said that the explosion had a yield of about 70 kilotonnes, while the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said it was 60 kilotonnes, and I thought then that it is not enough [for a hydrogen bomb]. However, eventually the explosion yield was estimated to be 160 kilotonnes, so we can say that it could have been a hydrogen bomb," he explained.

At the same time, the Japanese expert said that "it was not a warhead," as in order to develop a warhead, there was a need to test a large hydrogen bomb. Now, in Koizumi’s words, the question is "whether North Korea is capable of producing a nuclear warhead based on the information received during the sixth nuclear test." To develop a thermonuclear warhead using only the information from one test may be difficult, he added.

North Korea unable to deliver hydrogen bomb to Pacific Ocean

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded to US President Donald Trump’s address to the UN General Assembly saying that unprecedented reciprocal measures against Washington would be considered. When asked about the details of the measures, North Korean Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that it could be "the most powerful explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean."

In this connection, Koizumi noted that it was difficult to say where such a test could be conducted, however, the means to deliver such a bomb to the Pacific Ocean needed to be considered. "If it is placed on a missile, then it will fly between Hokkaido and the Aomori Prefecture towards the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, like the missiles earlier launched by Pyongyang," the Japanese expert said.

Nevertheless, he stressed that "the hydrogen bomb made by North Korea is not small enough to be installed on a missile." Koizumi suggested that North Korea could deliver the bomb to the launch site by a ship. He said that in case a missile was launched towards the Pacific Ocean, it would hardly be a hydrogen bomb test.

Missile technology on path to success

When speaking about the current state of North Korea’s military program, Koizumi pointed out that Pyongyang had made significant progress as far as its missile industry went. "They successfully launched three Hwasong-12 missiles, during the third test a missile flew 3,700 kilometers," he said adding that North Korea had for the first time demonstrated its capability to deliver a strike on the US Island of Guam, where military bases important for the region were located.

The Japanese expert added that North Korea had also tested the Hwasong-14 ballistic missile that was believed to be intercontinental. "So it can be said that the North Korean program for developing missiles is nearing completion," he noted.

According to Koizumi, Pyongyang "still has a number of issues in developing nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles, particularly in creating a small nuclear explosive device" but "there is no doubt that Pyongyang is moving closer to producing nuclear weapons." After North Korea achieved this goal, it will insist that it be recognized as a nuclear state, in order to be able to participate in talks as such, the Japanese expert said.

Korean Peninsula situation

The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains tense as Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs, while Seoul and Washington hold joint military drills.

In July, North Korea conducted two ballistic missile tests, which provoked a sharp response from the United States, Japan and South Korea. On August 29 and September 15, North Korea fired ballistic missiles, which flew over Japan’s Hokkaido Island and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. On September 3, Pyongyang announced a successful nuclear test.

On September 12, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution tightening sanctions against North Korea. However, the country does not recognize the UN Security Council resolutions claiming to have the right to strengthen its defense capabilities against the backdrop of Washington’s aggressive policy.

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