North Korea makes nuclear breakthrough
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North Korea announced on Wednesday that it has successfully carried out a nuclear fusion reaction. The report in the ruling party's paper Rodong Sinmun said it was a breakthrough in developing new energy sources and made no mention of its potential use as a weapon.
The paper said North Korea had developed the technology independently of other scientists.
"Korean-style thermonuclear reaction devices were designed and manufactured, basic researches into nuclear fusion reaction completed and strong scientific and technological forces built to perfect the technology by their own efforts," it said.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has estimated that North Korea has up to six nuclear weapons. Its nuclear weapons programme is based on plutonium produced from spent fuel at a reactor in Yongbyon.
Another way of making nuclear bombs is enriching uranium. Last September the country annouced it had reached the final stage of that process.
There is international pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programme. But six-nation talks with the US, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan have been on hold since December 2008.
In April last year North Korea said it was leaving the talks. But last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il visited China and pledged to try to revive the talks, saying his country "will work with China to create favourable conditions for restarting the talks".
China is North Korea's main source of food, fuel and finance. The country has been suffering from food shortages since UN sanctions have been increased after its second atomic weapons test and a failed currency reform a year ago.
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