North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile, Septembeer 16, 2017. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, South Korean experts say, following a statement from Pyongyang that the country is ready to take its nuclear weapons program to the next level, according to a UPI story.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Thursday in New York that in “his opinion,” leader Kim Jong-un was prepared to conduct the “most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.”

Ri reportedly made the statement in response to a question from a reporter from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency who asked Pyongyang’s top diplomat how he interprets Kim’s unprecedented remarks about US President Donald Trump. It followed Trump’s statement that the US would have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if the country is to defend itself.

South Korean military experts say the H-bomb threat is credible because “North Korea has kept its word” on provocations, according to local news outlet News 1.

Experts also say the bold statement from Ri is an indication North Korea has secured “reliable” ballistic missile technology.

One expert said Pyongyang might detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific in order to test its electromagnetic pulse or EMP impact on potential targets.

“North Korea has so far conducted underground nuclear tests,” said Seo Gyun-ryul, a South Korean nuclear engineer and analyst at Seoul National University. “If past tests were used to verify the explosive power of nuclear bombs, it is likely North Korea will test an electronic bomb in the Pacific.”