North Korea Goes Thermonuclear?

North Korean officials claim the country detonated its first thermonuclear weapon, significantly increasing the destructive potential of the communist state’s nuclear program, on Wednesday. “We are aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site and have seen Pyongyang’s claims of a nuclear test,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. State officials could not confirm claims North Korea detonated a new class of nuclear weapon, but Kirby said it is “monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional partners.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said initial data from various monitoring sources were “not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test,” reported the Washington Post. North Korea conducted three previous nuclear tests between 2006 and 2013. The country’s state-run media warned of a more advanced type of nuclear test last year, as it was expanding its test site at Punggye-ri. Seismic shock from the Jan. 5 test was roughly equivalent to the previous test, despite the fact that hydrogen-type weapons are far more powerful than the conventional fission weapons tested before, reported BBC News.