A top US general has told reporters that North Korea has likely achieved the capability of being able to miniaturize nuclear weapons that could be placed on top of a rocket, Felicia Schwartz reports for The Wall Street Journal.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of US forces on the Korean peninsula, told reporters at the Pentagon today that he believes that North Korea is likely able to miniaturize a nuclear device. However, the US has not yet seen evidence that North Korea has actually conducted a miniaturized nuclear weapon test.
Scaparroti said at the briefing that he believes North Korea has “the capability to miniaturize a device at this point and they have the technology to actually deliver what they say they have.”
Although he is unsure of where North Korea may have acquired the technology necessary to overcome the technological hurdle, the general said that the advance may have been aided by proliferation efforts from Iran or Pakistan.
“They have proliferation, relationships with other countries, Iran and Pakistan in particular,” Scaparrotti said.
The miniaturization of warheads by North Korea could lead to a serious rebalancing of power dynamics in the region.
Such nuclear warheads would be small enough to fit on a ballistic missile and would be a major improvement to Pyongyang’s weapons technology. Gen. Scaparrotti said he believed North Korea also had developed a launcher that could carry an ICBM with a miniaturized warhead.
However, successfully fitting nuclear warheads on a missile and carrying out a successful launch is still technologically taxing. Experts believe that an actual launch may be currently beyond North Korea’s ballistic capabilities.
This announcement comes on the heels of a recent charm offensive carried out by North Korea. Representatives of the Hermit Kingdom have visited South Korea and the EU, and Kim Jong-Un personally ordered the release of imprisoned American Jeffrey Fowle.
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