01/06/2016, 00.00
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North Korea’s bomb: Kim Jong-un "wants to die like Samson with all the Philistines"

A Catholic source spoke to AsiaNews about Pyongyang’s alleged fourth nuclear test. After “The agreement between Seoul and Tokyo over the ‘comfort women’ and the cooling of relations with Beijing,” the young dictator knows he is alone. “Rather than give up power, he is willing to go for total war”. A hydrogen bomb is more powerful than an atomic bomb. International experts still doubt Pyongyang’s real capacity to develop such a weapon. The UN Security Council meets today.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The alleged fourth nuclear test carried out by the regime of Kim Jong-un "confirms the young dictator’s mad vision. He thinks like Samson. Rather than give up power, he is willing to go for total war,” said a Catholic source knowledgeable about the Kim-run Stalinist regime.

“The agreement between Seoul and Tokyo over the 'comfort women', the cooling of relations with Beijing, and Japan’s rearmament have put Pyongyang in a corner," the source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews.

This comes after state TV announced that North Korea successfully performed its first miniaturised hydrogen bomb test at 10:00 am (local time). International seismology centres detected the event as a 5.1-magnitude tremor next to the North's main Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

This is a major development. Not only is a hydrogen nuclear bomb more powerful than an atomic bomb, but it can be small to fit in warheads of ballistic missiles that North Korea has had for years.

Complicating matters, in addition to claims that it tested a hydrogen bomb, North Korea in the past said it tested a submarine-launched missile.

The ability to launch missiles from submarines would change the whole calculation of military response because warning times of an attack would be much shorter.

North Korea’s total isolation "is the key to understand these continuous provocations,” the source told AsiaNews. “The regime's nuclear programme began in 2002, and since then it has carried out three tests that have been widely condemned.”

Yet, “until now, it was all about posturing. In exchange for slowing down its programme, Pyongyang would get humanitarian aid. At present, with state media hyping the rhetoric, there is nothing much to barter. It might actually mean war.”

North Korea’s militaristic rhetoric goes back a while but became more strident in 1990s when "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il came to power. Sŏn'gun is North Korea’s "military first" doctrine, giving priority to the Korean People's Army over the rest of society. Because of it, the country’s military includes 2.4 million members out of a population of 20 million.

Now, the source said, "the military are Kim Jong-un’s last chance of survival, unless there is a change of direction in the management of Pyongyang’s international relations. Still, I cannot see how they can go back today."

Reactions were swift. In Japan, Prime Minister Abe said that this fourth test was a "serious threat to the safety of his nation” and that could not be tolerated. In New York, all the members of the Security Council of the United Nations agreed to an emergency meeting. Even North Korea’s main ally for decades, mainland China, was quick to criticise the test. 

"We strongly urge the DPRK* side to remain committed to its denuclearization commitment, and stop taking any actions that would make the situation worse," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told journalists at a regular briefing.

Beijing was not aware of Wednesday's test in advance, Hua said; however, she added that China would "make our assessment" of Pyongyang's claim that it was a hydrogen bomb.

* DPRK: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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