If North Korea is confirmed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, as the country’s Stalinist dictatorship claimed Wednesday, it would signify that Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program is far more advanced than most analysts have imagined, a veteran North Korea watcher told Fox News late Wednesday.
“If in fact it was a hydrogen test, this means the North Koreans are advancing their nuclear weaponization program at a faster and more efficient (and deadly) pace than most analysts have predicted in the past,” Dr. Bruce Bechtol wrote in an email.
“Thus, yes, it changes things,” Bechtol added. “It increases the possibilities regarding the threat that North Korea can pose to South Korea, the region, and the U.S.”
Bechtol, who has authored five books on North Korea, including the recent “North Korea and Regional Security in the Kim Jong-Un Era“, also warned that Wednesday’s test would likely be followed by a long-range ballistic missile test.
“We have seen nuclear tests conducted within a very short time frame – either before or after – long-range ballistic missiles tests, three times now since 2006,” he wrote.
However, Bechtol also noted that several key questions about the test remain unanswered, including whether the device tested was in fact a hydrogen bomb, as well as how strong the device turned out to be. The North’s statement said the hydrogen bomb it tested was “miniaturized”, but gave no further details.