By Agence France-Presse
The head of the US military’s Strategic Command is “assuming” North Korea’s nuclear test earlier this month was of a hydrogen bomb, Defense News reported Thursday.
Pyongyang insisted the September 3 nuclear test was a hydrogen bomb but western powers have been reluctant to verify the claim.
The reported acknowledgement is the nearest the US has come to confirming it was an H-bomb, with a senior official previously saying only that there was nothing inconsistent with North Korea’s claim.
“I saw the event, I saw the indications that came from that event,” General John Hyten said. “I saw the size, I saw the reports and therefore, to me, I am assuming it was a hydrogen bomb.”
Experts had said the blast had the hallmarks of a two-stage hydrogen bomb, which work on fusion, with a nuclear blast taking place first to create the intense temperatures required.
“The size of the weapon shows that there clearly was a secondary explosion,” Hyten told reporters visiting the command with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, according to the outlet Defense News.
“To me that is the definition.”
“You still haven’t seen everything put together,” he was quoted as saying. “But it’s just a matter of when, not if.”
The test, Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear blast, prompted global condemnation and came after it carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July that appeared to bring much of the US into range.
Pyongyang said was the hydrogen bomb was small enough to fit onto a missile.