On Jan. 6, the Korean Central News Agency in North Korea reported the successful testing of a hydrogen bomb, which, if true, would mark a large advancement in the nation’s highly controversial nuclear program. Through news networks such as the BBC and CNN, the international community has since questioned not only the validity of the report, but also the implications this alleged development could have on long-term East Asian stability.
Since 2006, North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests, all of which have brought forth numerous calls for regulations and restrictions on the regime. However, contrary to the nation’s previous trials, this marked the first to utilize a hydrogen weapon, which has a destructive capacity many times that of a regular nuclear bomb.
“The village that stopped believing the boy who cried wolf eventually got devoured,” said Paul Roberts, Government and Politics teacher. “Similarly, if we let our guard down, the worst can happen. We cannot treat international threats like this lightly, regardless of whether or not they actually do have a hydrogen bomb.”
Since the development of its nuclear program in the 1960s, North Korea has on numerous occasions threatened both South Korea and the US for supplies and the lifting of sanctions. Even though they have been often denied such demands in light of human rights abuses, the nation has yet to act upon its threats, causing many to see it as using acts of belligerence to obtain political acknowledgement.
“I doubt North Korea even has the scientific capability to build a thermonuclear weapon,” said Juhyung Park (11), member of Model United Nations. “If anything, this is yet another cheap bluff to gain global recognition and use this to their advantage.”
Regardless of whether this is an actual threat or, as Juhyung put it, “a cheap bluff”, talks between East Asian countries and the west on how to deal with the Kim administration remain abundant. In the midst of suggestions are the implementation of sanctions to cut off trade, appeasing the regime, and addressing the nation’s longtime ally and supporter: China.
“Successful diplomatic relationships can only form once two parties find a common ground and in this case, that is China,” said Jason Choi (11), Help North Korean Refugees member. “If China can be pressured into talking to North Korea, tensions will decrease and threats will give way to actual productive diplomatic discussions.”