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January 7, 2016

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1.North Korea said it conducted a powerful hydrogen bomb test on Wednesday, a defiant and surprising move that, if confirmed, would be a huge jump in Pyongyang’s quest to improve its still-limited nuclear arsenal.

2.South Korea’s spy agency and outside nuclear experts cast strong doubt, however, saying the estimated explosive yield from North Korea’s fourth nuclear explosion was much smaller than what even a failed H-bomb detonation would produce.

3.A successful H-bomb test would be a big new step for the North. Fusion is the main principle behind the hydrogen bomb, which can be hundreds of times more powerful than atomic bombs that use fission. In a hydrogen bomb, radiation from a nuclear fission explosion sets off a fusion reaction responsible for a powerful blast and radioactivity.

4.An estimated explosive yield of 6.0 kilotonnes and a quake with a magnitude of 4.8 (the U.S. reported 5.1) were detected, lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said the National Intelligence Service told him. That’s smaller than the estimated explosive yield of 7.9 kilotonnes and a quake with a magnitude of 4.9 that were reported after the 2013 nuclear test, he said, and only a fraction of the hundreds of kilotonnes that a successful H-bomb test’s explosion would usually yield. Even a failed H-bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotonnes, the NIS told Mr. Lee, who sits on the parliament’s intelligence committee.