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(LEAD) N. Korea develops H-bomb, Kim Jong-un says

All Headlines 15:41 December 10, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with S. Korea's assessment in paras 5-10)

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stated that his country has developed not only nuclear weapons but also hydrogen bombs, according to Pyongyang's state media Thursday.

He made the remark while inspecting a historic site for the communist nation's arms industry a day earlier, according to reports.

The North has been turned into a "powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation" thanks to tireless efforts by his late grandfather Kim Il-sung, founder of the nation, the Korean Central News Agency said in a report on Kim's "field guidance" at the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site in Pyongyang.

It marks the first time that Kim has publicly mentioned the North's development of an H-bomb, experts here noted.

South Korea's intelligence community was skeptical about the reclusive North's H-bomb capability.

"We don't have any information that North Korea has developed an H-bomb," an intelligence official said. "We do not believe that North Korea, which has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear bombs, has the technology to produce an H-bomb."

He said Kim's relevant words seem to be just "rhetoric."

Experts here also echoed the view.

"It's hard to regard North Korea as possessing an H-bomb. I think it seems to be developing it," Lee Chun-geun, research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, said.

Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies said, Kim was apparently trying to press the U.S. to sign a peace treaty.

Meanwhile, the North's young leader, who is ending his fourth year of ruling, called on the nation to step up efforts to promote the munitions industry.

The Phyongchon Revolutionary Site is intended to commemorate the North's first munitions factory set up there in 1945 at the instruction of Kim Il-sung.


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