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Mr Kim’s regime is now believed to possess up to 20 nuclear weapons – about half of which are loaded onto ballistic missiles.Last year, North Korea tested a submarine-launched missile and declared its intention of mastering the technology for thermonuclear weapons.
"This highly provocative act poses a grave threat to international peace and security and blatantly violates multiple U. Mr Earnest says the test does not lead the US to believe North Korea has expanded its military capability.• Pyongyang claims it tested hydrogen bomb • What we know so far • 5.1 magnitude tremor initially detected • UN Security Council "strongly condemns", pledges sanctions • But some countries suspect device was not genuine hydrogen bomb • North Korea says it needs H bomb to defend against US • Shinzo Abe promises tough Japanese response Julian Ryall in Tokyo and David Blair: North Korea claimed to have achieved the “next level” of “nuclear might” yesterday after conducting the underground explosion of a “hydrogen bomb”.This was the country’s fourth nuclear test since 2006, but the first allegedly to involve a hydrogen weapon – also known as thermonuclear device.In all, around 70 officials have been executed since Kim took over after his father's death in 2011, Yonhap news agency cited the NIS as saying.'North Korean internal politics is very volatile these days.Internally, there does not seem to be any respect for Kim Jong Un within the core and middle levels of the North Korean leadership,' said Michael Madden, an expert on the country's leadership and contributor to the 38 North think tank.North Korea’s apparent aim is to build an arsenal of thermonuclear weapons that could eventually be delivered on long range missiles.
The Taepodong-2 missile, currently in development, could fly as far as the United States.
The current leader is the third generation of the Kim family that has ruled with near-absolute power since the country was established in 1948.
In 2013, Kim purged and executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, once considered the second most powerful man in Pyongyang's leadership circle, for factionalism and committing crimes damaging to the economy, along with a group of officials close to him.
“One thing that is clear is they are making progress across their nuclear arsenal,” said Matthew Cottee, a non-proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“Both the nuclear programme the missile programme are continuing without any significant control by the international community.” Air particles, satellite images and seismic data will all be analysed to learn more about this test – and establish exactly what device was used.
It was claimed that Kim had Jang Song-Thaek, once his political mentor, executed in late 2013 by having him stripped naked and thrown into a cage with his five closest aides before he was eaten alive by 120 dogs that had been deliberately starved - while the president watched.