Status: 03/28/2023 11:13 AM
North Korean ruler Kim wants to “significantly” increase his country’s nuclear arsenal. He ordered an increase in the production of nuclear materials used in weapons. South Korean observers expressed concern.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to increase the production of nuclear material in his country. State media quoted him as saying that this was the only way to implement the Labor Party’s plan to increase “the nuclear arsenal exponentially” and continue to build powerful nuclear weapons. North Korea must prepare to use weapons “anytime and anywhere”.
North Korean media published several photos of alleged small nuclear warheads bearing the name “Hwasan 31” during Kim’s visit to the National Nuclear Weapons Institute. South Korea observers suspect that North Korea wants to prove that warheads can be used in various types of missiles.
“This is troubling”
Experts say the images could indicate progress in miniaturizing warheads that are powerful but small enough to be fitted to intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the United States. Suh, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University, after comparing warheads in 2016: “It has a bit more power in a smaller space. That’s concerning.”
For many years, it was uncertain whether the isolated nation actually had the technology to downsize a warhead to fit ballistic missiles of different ranges. About three years ago, a report by a United Nations panel of experts said that many countries now assume that North Korea has small nuclear devices that also fit in ballistic missile warheads.
“The possibility of North Korea conducting a seventh nuclear weapons test using these tactical nuclear warheads increases with the next step,” Cheong Seong-chang of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea told AFP.
Escalating tensions on the peninsula
The announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. After an unprecedented series of missile tests last year, North Korea tested nuclear-capable missiles again this year despite a UN ban. The United States and South Korea have resumed large-scale joint military exercises.