On the evening of January 5, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio slammed President Barack Obama’s foreign policy following as yet unascertained claims by North Korea to have detonated hydrogen bomb for the first time. Presidential candidate Rubio said in a statement, "I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by."
 
The Florida senator continued, saying “If this test is confirmed, it will be just the latest example of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy." 
 
"Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama's weakness. We need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong-un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe," Rubio said.
 
No diplomatic response has issued from the Obama administration yet, putting the president on the spot. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was not reticent, however. Abe said of the blast, "It clearly violates the UNSC resolution and is a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation efforts." 
 
While the White House said it is “aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula,” no confirmation of the test blast was confirmed. A National Security Council spokesman said that the government is monitoring the issue in coordination with “regional partners” and will “respond appropriately.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quoted as saying that the White House seriously question the North Korean claims. Some scientists are equally dismissive.
 
Just to be certain, the U.S. may send aloft so-called “sniffer” aircraft that can detect radiation produced by the blast. Some scientists speculate that North Korea may have, however, been able to boost the explosive yield of a nuclear weapon through means other than a hydrogen bomb.
 
Just last month, the White House said it doubted that North Korea is able to build a hydrogen bomb and thus greatly boost its arsenal. North Korea is known to have missiles capable of atomic warheads. In 2014, the Defense Department was dismissive of the Communist country’s capabilities. A DoD source said in July 2014 that North Korean missiles have a “low reliability.” North Korea is believed to be sharing its missile technology with Iran, which has its own nuclear weaponization program. 
 
The most recent nuclear test in North Korea came in 2013, when it restarted a plutonium reactor that it had shut down at its Yongbyon reactor complex in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord. The reactor is able to produce annually six kilograms (13 pounds) of plutonium – enough for one nuclear bomb. Some reports suggest that the Communist country has enough fissile material for six such weapons. It is not known whether North Korea used plutonium or uranium as its fissile material in 2013. 
Researchers at Washington's Institute for Science and International Security have similarly discounted Pyongyang's claims, but have speculated that North Korea might be able to boost its "explosive yield" through other means.
 
Before North Korea's announcement, the US Geological Survey registered an earth tremor of a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter scale that occurred close to Punggye-ri  - the site of a previous nuclear test. The quake occurred about 12 miles east of Sungjibaegam in northeastern North Korea. A report from a government source in South Korea indicted that the earthquake was "artificial."
 
“We have perfectly succeeded in testing our first hydrogen bomb,” said an anchor on government controlled television in North Korea. “It was one hundred percent capable from our own wisdom, technology, and power. We have now scientifically test-proved a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.”

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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