North Korea could be on the brink of fitting a nuclear warhead into a ballistic missile, a major advance in its weapons program, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a South Korean nuclear expert.
The report quoted Kim Tae-woo, former head of South Korea’s state-run Korea Institute for National Unification, as saying “the field deployment of a nuclear missile is imminent.”
North Korea watchers had generally been skeptical that the country had the know-how to miniaturize a warhead to mount one on a ballistic missile. But that thinking has shifted among some since Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test in February last year and is threatening to do so again, the report said.
China has used diplomatic channels to warn North Korea against a nuclear test, Reuters said, adding weight to claims that it plans to go ahead with one.
Mark Fitzpatrick, from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said he believed North Korea could mount a warhead on a mid-range Rondong missile, “given the number of years [it] has been working at it.”
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