US ‘assumes’ North Koreans tested H-bomb
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — The top commander of U.S. nuclear forces said Thursday he assumes the Sept. 3 nuclear test by North Korea was a hydrogen bomb, suggesting a heightened U.S. concern that the North has advanced to a new level of nuclear firepower.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of Strategic Command, told reporters that while he was not in a position to confirm it, he assumes from the size of the underground explosion and other factors that it was a hydrogen bomb — which is a leap beyond the fission, or atomic, bombs North Korea has previously tested.
Shortly after the Sept. 3 test, North Korea claimed they exploded a hydrogen bomb, and while U.S. officials have not contradicted them, they have not confirmed it, either.
Administration officials had indicated they saw nothing to contradict the North’s claim. Hyten went further, saying the characteristics of the test made him think it was an H-bomb. ••• Associated Press of the earlier missile that flew over Japan. Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same intermediate-range missile launched in that earlier flight, the Hwasong-12.
That missile is linked to North Korea’s declaration that it means to contain the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, which is the home of important U.S. military assets and appears well within the Hwasong12’s range.
Friday’s missile test was met with the usual outrage. South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered his military to conduct a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North Korean launch and instructed government officials to pursue “stern” measures to discourage Pyongyang from further provocations.