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(2nd LD) Defense officials, experts to gauge N. Korea's nuclear capability

All Headlines 17:11 January 19, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- Defense officials and experts gathered here together Tuesday to gauge North Korea's nuclear capability following the communist country's recent nuclear test.

Minister of National Defense Han Min-koo, Vice Minister of National Defense Hwang In-moo and 17 other defense and military officials held a workshop at the defense ministry with seven experts on North Korea, mostly from state-run research centers including the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

Technical assessment of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, how to respond to the test on the diplomatic front and how to denuclearize the communist country were the main topics of the discussion, according to the ministry.

"The latest nuclear test has made many South Koreans uneasy," Minister Han said in the opening remarks of the meeting.

"The recent nuclear test is a grave provocation that directly threatens the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the world, and South Korea is facing serious worries," the minister noted.

On Jan. 6, the North claimed it conducted a "successful hydrogen bomb test," a claim discredited by the international community.

The ministry will draw on the experts' analyses in order to come up with defense policies to effectively respond to North Korea's emerging nuclear threats, the ministry said.

It is "technically impossible" to determine whether the recent North Korean test was based on a hydrogen bomb, a boosted fission bomb or just an atomic bomb, Hwang Yong-soo, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control, was quoted by a ministry official as saying in the meeting.

Technically, it will be very difficult to pick up from the recent test radioactive gases like Xenon isotopes which could help experts to determine the design of the detonated bomb, the official said.

Jung Young-tae, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, called for stringent international sanctions on North Korea, which could last for long time to corner the communist country.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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