North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has announced that his country is equipped with hydrogen bombs, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday. Kim also said that North Korea needs to “actively” develop its military industry.
“We managed to become a great nuclear power capable of defending the independence and national dignity of our homeland by mighty nuclear and hydrogen strikes,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying, according to RT.com.
Kim made the announcement during a visit to a historic military site in Pyongyang on Wednesday. He said that North Korea was a “powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty,” Yonhap News Agency reported.
This also marked the first time Kim has openly talked about developing hydrogen bombs, experts reportedly said.
"Kim has revealed on a number of occasions that North Korea possesses nuclear bombs. But this appears to be the first time that he talked about an H-bomb," Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, told Yonhap.
Some also said it was difficult to trust the claims made by the North Korean leader. Lee Chun-geun, a research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, Seoul, reportedly said it was “hard to regard North Korea as possessing an H-bomb.”
Meanwhile, a U.S. research institute said Wednesday that North Korea appeared to have completed an upgrade of its rocket launch site at Sohae, North Pyongan province. According to a report on 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, satellite imagery from October and November showed construction of new propellant bunkers at the launch pad and engine test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, Reuters reported.
The report added that the images appeared to show "near completion, signifying what is likely the end of a three-year upgrade program."
"That program is probably designed to support future activities related to the testing and launching of larger rockets,” it said.
Furthermore, the upgrades indicated that North Korea would be ready to carry out launches "by the first quarter of 2016 should the leadership in Pyongyang decide to do so," 38 North said in the report.