The United States has tentatively concluded that North Korea detonated an H-bomb over the weekend, as the regime has claimed, Yonhap news agency reported citing a senior U.S. administration official on Thursday.
The remark underscores the gravity of the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as an H-bomb is far more destructive than the atomic weapons the regime has tested in the past.
“We’re still assessing that test,” the official told reporters in a teleconference, referring to the detonation on Sunday.
“I can say that so far there’s nothing inconsistent with the North Korean claim that this was a hydrogen bomb, but we don’t have a conclusive view on it yet,” he said on the condition of anonymity.
Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday, claiming it was a successful detonation of an H-bomb that can be mounted on a long-range missile. Its fourth nuclear test in January 2016 was also of an H-bomb, according to Pyongyang, but outside experts said it was more likely to be a boosted fission weapon.
On reports that North Korea may test-launch another intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday, the official said the U.S. is monitoring the situation and coordinating very closely with its allies.
Asked if that missile could be shot down, he said, “We have means to defend ourselves and all of our territories as well as allies’ territory.”
The official also stressed the growing danger of a miscalculation by North Korea.
“The danger that this comes to conflict is rising as a direct result of their efforts to develop this terrible arsenal,” he said.