Tags: NKorea | nuclear | fusion | success

NKorea Claims Nuclear Fusion Success

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 09:53 AM

SEOUL - North Korea claimed Wednesday that it had achieved a nuclear fusion reaction, saying the successful experiment has opened the door to the development of a new energy source.

However, a high-ranking government official in Seoul dismissed the report, calling the claim "absurd."

The official said on condition of anonymity that the government was not aware of any reports or evidence that the North possessed the expensive facility that would be necessary for such an experiment.

Fusion is the process used in hydrogen bomb to generate a thermonuclear explosion, which is far more powerful than a fission atomic device, according to experts.

The official said it was practically impossible for Pyongyang to build such a facility secretly and therefore thinks the report does not make sense.

In a front-page article, the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North Korean Workers' Party, reported that North Korean scientists produced a nuclear fusion reaction event.

The paper further said the success was a milestone demonstrating the North's cutting-edge technology with the scientists overcoming all scientific and technological challenges facing them.

Seoul's Ministry of Unification would not make any official comment on the matter, saying it was trying to figure out whether the report was true or not.

Local nuclear energy scientists, however, questioned Pyongyang's claim.

Professor Hong Sang-hee of Seoul National University said in an interview that he had heard nothing about the North undertaking nuclear fusion reaction studies before.

"Having said that, I guess the Rodong Sinmun probably tried to say that North Korea performed an experiment with a thermonuclear reaction device," he said.

Other nuclear scientists were skeptical of the report as well, saying nuclear fusion research is only underway in advanced nations.

Yang Hyung-lyeol, a nuclear scientist at the state-run National Fusion Research Institute, told The Korea Times over the phone that the North might have meant that it conducted a beginner-level experiment on nuclear fusion in a laboratory where "the research environment was as shabby as that of the university."

Asked if the communist state was trying to send a message that it had thermonuclear technology with the report, Yang said he was unaware of it.

"Considering the context of the statement in the paper, I think the North was simply commenting about energy technology, not that of weapons," he said.

To read full Korean Times story — Go Here Now.

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SEOUL - North Korea claimed Wednesday that it had achieved a nuclear fusion reaction, saying the successful experiment has opened the door to the development of a new energy source.
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