In a new provocation, probably a move like others to avoid international isolation with a mix of distensive measures and mounting threats that has left experts perplexed. North Korea’s regime head and third member of the only communist dynasty in history, Kim Jong-un, claimed during a military event that his nation has the capacity of using nuclear weapons, both conventional and hydrogen.
The regime undoubtedly has an H bomb among its primary goals, but no one believes this achievable before five years.
The North Korean laboratories are able to produce a low-technology atomic bomb, using uranium and plutonium, and certainly are close to a nuclear device possibly using fusion fuel, but experts are unanimous in currently ruling out an H-bomb. Questions in fact remain on its actual use, considering the few warplanes at the disposal of the regime’s airforce that would be easily intercepted in case of conflict with the South or others, and that the current missile technology, despite recent developments, including that used by submarines, is not able to transport the few nuclear heads that could emerge from the labs.
A technology that could however be achieved over the next years. Consequentially, the aim of the regime appears to be aimed at accessing a highly destructive nuclear capacity. An eventuality that not only would considerably step up international isolation of the regime – the UN is already in the process of deferral before the International Criminal Court in the Hague for crimes against humanity – but concrete action by South Korea and its US ally to impede its use. The risk of a conventional war, however devastating for the Korean Peninsula, at this point is extremely elevated.