White House officials shared skepticism of North Korea’s recent claims to have successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb. Early Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said intelligence agencies analysis does not match up with what North Korea claims was a successful hydrogen bomb test. Earnest confirmed that seismic activity was consistent with some kind of atomic detonation. Independent analysts around the world had expressed “significant and understandable skepticism of the claims of the North Korean regime” that it had a more advanced hydrogen bomb. Seismic activity data was identical to data from North Korea’s previous tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Air samples collected by drone should soon give analysts an idea of what happened, a senior U.S. military official said. But for the moment, the North Korean boast is being treated with skepticism.
American estimates of North Korea’s nuclear stockpile are hazy, and there is disagreement on whether Kim Jong-Un’s regime has miniaturized weapons enough to put them atop missiles. North Korea may have up to “a few dozen”nuclear weapons that could be fit on its vast fleet of ballistic missiles, which are capable of hitting targets in Japan, South Korea or elsewhere in the northern Pacific, including U.S. military bases as far south as Guam.
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