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North Korea Will Soon Test Nuclear Warhead - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016.  REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that his country would soon conduct tests of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the North’s KCNA news agency reported.

He said the tests would include blowing up a nuclear warhead and firing “several kinds” of ballistic rockets. The tests are meant to “enhance the reliance” of the North’s nuclear attack capability, he added.

The announcement, which would be a direct violation of U.N. resolutions which have the backing of the North’s chief ally China, came few days after Pyongyang was hit with tough UN sanctions.

Kim made the comments as he monitored a successful simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile that measured the “thermodynamic structural stability of newly developed heat-resisting materials”, KCNA said Tuesday.

“Declaring that a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads will be conducted in a short time to further enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability, he (Kim) instructed the relevant section to make prearrangement for them to the last detail,” the agency said.

South Korea’s defence ministry said there were no signs of activities at the North’s nuclear test site or its long-range rocket station, but that North Korea continues to maintain readiness to conduct nuclear tests.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the North would lead itself to self-destruction if it did not change and continued the confrontation with the international community.

Military tensions have been escalating on the divided Korean peninsula since the North staged its fourth nuclear test on January 6, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch that was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

In the apparent re-entry simulation, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party carried pictures on Tuesday of a dome-shaped object placed under what appeared to be a rocket engine and being blasted with flaming exhaust. In separate images, Kim observed the object described by KCNA as a warhead tip.

The North has issued belligerent statements almost daily since coming under a new U.N. resolution adopted this month to tighten sanctions against it after a nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket last month.

In 1962, the United States launched a ballistic missile with a live warhead in what was known as the Frigate Bird test. China conducted a similar test in 1966.

“What would be terrible is if the DPRK (North Korea) re-enacted Operation Frigate Bird or the fourth Chinese nuclear test and did a two-in-one,” said Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

“For now, though, it looks like a nuclear test and several missile tests in close succession.”

After the North’s report, South Korea’s defense ministry cast his doubts on the North has acquiring missile re-entry technology.

U.S. and South Korean experts have said the general consensus is that North Korea has not yet successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

More importantly, the consensus is that there have been no tests to prove it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to bring a payload back into the atmosphere.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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