North Korea has successfully carried out a nuclear fusion reaction, its official news agency said on Wednesday. The breakthrough announced by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) would be a technical step forward from the nuclear fission reactions which Pyongyang has already tested.

“The successful nuclear fusion marks a great event that demonstrated the rapidly developing cutting—edge science and technology of the DPRK (North Korea),” the KCNAreport said. Nuclear fusion, where atoms are compressed together, is far more technically demanding than nuclear fission, where they are split apart to release energy. It could potentially lead to the production of more powerful nuclear weapons.

Research scientist Yang Hyung, of the South Korean National Fusion Research Institute in Taejon, said he did not think that North Korea had the necessary technology or resources for a fusion reaction. The announcement came amid renewed efforts to convince North Korea to return to the table of the six—party talks which aim to put an end to its nuclear arms programme. Pyongyang walked out of the talks, which include China, Japan, Russia, the United States and two Koreas, in April 2009 over UN—imposed economic sanctions.

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