Experts express doubts over North Korea H-bomb claims

2016-01-06 08:04:51 GMT2016-01-06 16:04:51(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Despite its claims, North Korea's nuclear test on Wednesday may not have been a hydrogen bomb, since making such a weapon requires sophisticated technologies which North Korea is unlikely to possess, experts said.

North Korea on Wednesday said that an "earthquake" that was recorded in the country's northeast was a hydrogen bomb test, conducted in the same location as three previous nuclear tests, CNN reported.

The test took place at 10 am local time, a televised statement said, with tremors being felt across the border in China.

Zhai Dequan, a research fellow at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times Wednesday that many still doubt the truth of North Korea's claims about their hydrogen bomb.

A senior US administration figure said it could take days to obtain the scientific data to determine whether this was a successful test, CNN reported.

"It's hard to believe that North Korea can successfully develop a hydrogen bomb without other nations' help, since the country's industrial capability may not meet the requirements for producing hydrogen bomb," Zhai said.

The explosion is likely to have been caused by a powerful atomic bomb, Zhai added.

"Developing a hydrogen bomb requires sophisticated technologies, the so-called hydrogen bomb is likely to be a nuke that is somewhere between a conventional nuke and a hydrogen bomb," Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Research Center, China's Yanbian University, told the Global Times.

North Korea's relatively basic technology has led to several failures in the country's weapon tests.

A South Korean military official said on Wednesday that North Korea conducted its latest ejection test with a ballistic missile from a submarine last month and that seemed to end in failure, adding that it is expected to take "considerable time" for the secretive communist country to master submarine-launched ballistic missile-related technology, Yonhap News reported.

Will the nuclear test affect China?

According to China Central Television reports, during the North Korean nuclear test, an earthquake was felt by residents in the Yanji, Huncun and Changbai areas of Northeast China's Jilin Province. A playground at a Jilin high school cracked due to the tremors, which led to the immediate evacuation of all students, interrupting an examination.

Lü Chao, a researcher with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said the North Korean nuclear test will likely cause anxiety among Chinese residents living near the border.

"North Korean nuclear devices may not be optimized in their design, and the bomb materials may not be reliable yet. If any leakages occur, it could have a serious impact on air and water quality near the border," Lü told the Global Times.

The test site is only 100 kilometers from Chinese border.

Why now?

"Currently, the ties between South Korea and North Korea show no signs of recovering, the US is still applying its 'Strategic Patience' policy, declining North Korea's demands. That is why North Korea wanted to announce a successful test of an hydrogen bomb at this time," Jin Qiangyi, director of Asia Research Center, China's Yanbian University, told the Global Times

Ren Weidong, an associate research fellow with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the frequent military drills conducted by the US, Japan and South Korea around the Korean peninsula have imposed great pressure on North Korea. As conventional weapons are not enough to deal with the threat, it naturally turned to nuclear weapons, which are the most efficient and effective security guarantee for them, Ren said.

International impact

North Korea's bomb test will have a significant impact on the international situation, Gao Fei, a political scientist at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times Wednesday.

The uclear issue in North Korea has always been a key factor in the political wrestling of the world powers. It provides the US an excuse to deploy its military power in the Far East, while Japan seized the chance to militarize the country, Gao added.

The bomb test may lead to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THADD) defense system in South Korea, which may provoke China and Russia, experts said.

"The bomb test offers the US and its allies an excuse to counterbalance China and Russia's influence in the region," Gao said.

Meanwhile, the nuclear test site is close to China and Russia, which will draw protests from both countries, Gao added.

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