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North Korea hails hydrogen bomb test as path to economic power

A Pyongyang scientist said North Korea does not plan to stop weapons development and that scientists could make more powerful weapons.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea hails hydrogen bomb test as path to economic power
Pyongyang stunned the world on Wednesday after announcing its first experiment with an enhanced nuclear fission device, but an international relations expert said the claim might have been made to garner domestic support. File Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- North Korea extolled its claimed hydrogen bomb test and said the experiment opens a path to transforming the state into an "economic powerhouse."

Pyongyang's state-controlled newspaper Rodong Sinmun published an article Friday that exalted North Korea's military-first policy, stating, "The first successful hydrogen bomb test forcefully demonstrated the power of self-reliant [North Korea], [now] we must boldly struggle to build an economic powerhouse and to enhance the people's livelihoods."

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North Korea stated the regime's nuclear power has the capacity to strike "any strong enemy" and "seize absolute control."

"A path has opened, where we can devote all our energies into building an economic powerhouse," Pyongyang said in statement.

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Yonhap reported North Korea scientist Lee Jong Chol said Pyongyang does not plan to stop weapons development and that North Korea scientists could make weapons even more powerful than the hydrogen bomb.

Pyongyang stunned the world on Wednesday in announcing its first experiment with an enhanced nuclear fission device, but an international relations expert said the claim might have been made to garner domestic support, rather than threaten foreign powers.

Daniel A. Pinkston, a Troy University lecturer and former Northeast Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group in Seoul, said Kim Jong Un could have exaggerated North Korea's capabilities to build support inside the country.

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"My gut feeling is that it's probably directed toward internal domestic purposes...but that's often overlooked in international circles, with people looking for other reasons or taking it as a threat against President Obama or the United States," Pinkston said.

In North Korea, reactions to the hydrogen bomb announcement were overwhelmingly positive, CNN reported.

One North Korean architecture student told the U.S. broadcaster the test was "very wonderful" and a good guarantee for North Korea national security.

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"If you are trying to guard your house, you have to take your stick very firmly."

North Korea previously has blamed the United States for the humanitarian crises in the Middle East and for the fall of regimes in Iraq and Libya.

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