Tags: north korea | miniaturized | warheads

North Korea's Miniaturized Warheads, If Real, Threat to US

Image: North Korea's Miniaturized Warheads, If Real, Threat to US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 12:39 PM

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un claimed Wednesday that his country has miniaturized warheads that can fit on missiles – which means, others say, he can threaten the United States mainland.

Kim and nuclear scientists posed with what appears to be a model warhead part in photos on the front page of state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, reported The Associated Press.

If Kim’s claims are true, it would represent “a game-changing step towards a credible North Korean nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland,” Agence France‑Presse reported.

The AP noted that the claim was not verified and it was unknown whether the country has functioning warheads.

"It is unlikely that the object in the photo is a thermonuclear bomb (also referred to as a hydrogen bomb)," said Karl Dewey, a senior analyst for IHS Jane's, a defense and aerospace publishing company. "Thermonuclear weapons are multistage devices and in modern weapons the need to place two separate stages together would result in a more oblong-like structure."

However, opinions about the validity of the claims varied.

"Obviously we only have the picture to go on, but it looks as you would expect for a compact nuclear warhead," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in California, according to AFP.

Melissa Hanham, another weapons expert at MIIS, said: "I don't know that they could target that missile very well, or what it's range might be, but the claim cannot be dismissed as bluster.”

Gen Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US forces in South Korea said in 2014 that he believed the North had the capability to miniaturize a nuclear device, the BBC News reported.

BBC said a report by state news agency KCNA quoted Kim as saying: "The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them. This can be called true nuclear deterrent."

Kim’s announcement comes after the United Nations announced new sanctions recently and the U.S. and South Korea have begun annual military drills, Reuters reported.

Last week’s new sanctions came in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month, AFP noted.

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North Korea leader Kim Jong Un claimed Wednesday that his country has miniaturized warheads that can fit on missiles – which means, others say, he can threaten the United States mainland.
north korea, miniaturized, warheads
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2016-39-09
Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016 12:39 PM
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