North Korea yesterday claimed that it has succeeded in producing a nuclear fusion reaction while talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs remain in deadlock.
The reaction Pyongyang was referring to usually occurs naturally. Artificial experiments have been mostly unsuccessful, although there have been many attempts at controlling the energy produced from such a reaction to use for military purposes.
A nuclear fusion reaction also occurs when a hydrogen bomb is detonated, a bomb said to be far more damaging than an atomic bomb. This kind of reaction also leaves less radioactive residue.
The success in producing the nuclear fusion reaction marks a “breakthrough” in creating a new energy source, the North said via its official Korean Central News Agency.
“We succeeded in producing a nuclear fusion reaction after overcoming all scientific and technological obstacles, 100 percent on our own,” Pyongyang said.
South Korean officials, however, dismissed the claims, saying the North was unlikely to have attained the highly-coveted technology.
“It seems to be a far-fetched claim,” said one high-ranking government official on the condition of anonymity.
Pyongyang’s latest announcement comes as the denuclearization dialogue designed to end the reclusive regime’s nuclear ambitions remain stalled.
Pyongyang has been boycotting the dialogue since April last year when the United Nations denounced its rocket launch. In May, the North conducted its second nuclear test and was placed under stringent economic sanctions by the U.N.
Seoul’s skepticism about the North’s claims stemmed mostly from the fact that countries far more advanced than North Korea were struggling with the technology.
Another reason is because costly equipment and facilities are necessary for related experiments.
“There were no intelligence reports indicating that the North possessed them,” the government official said.
These reports appear to be accurate, he said, because it would be physically impossible to hide those facilities.
The official added that in most cases, related equipment and research centers cost approximately 5 billion euros ($6.3 billion).
But if Pyongyang’s claims are proven to be true, the official said the reaction could be seen to violate the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 banning nuclear tests.
The North could then be considered as diversifying its nuclear arsenal.
Even in such a case, however, experts and officials pointed out that the North is void of both the resources and technology to pursue an actual hydrogen bomb.
Many believed Pyongyang to be seeking more leverage at the denuclearization talks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently visited China, the North’s closest ally and chair of the six-way talks, but he failed to pledge a return to the discussions.
By Kim Ji-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org