North Korea has unveiled new, smaller nuclear warheads and has pledged to produce more nuclear materials to expand its arsenal, North Korean state media reported on Tuesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered an increase in the production of material for nuclear bombs while inspecting works related to mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles, state media reported on Tuesday.
The North Korean news agency KCNA published photos of Kim looking at objects resembling various types of warheads. According to the Japanese NHK station, tactical nuclear warheads were probably shown.
Experts on North Korea’s military advances
Experts said the images may indicate advances in the miniaturization of warheads that are small enough to be mounted on intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting United States.
– It has something more powerful, but smaller in size. This is worrying, said Kune Y. Suh, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Seoul National University.
Former South Korean naval officer Kim Dong-yup, who teaches at Kyungnam University, said the photos show a “miniature, lightweight and standardized warhead” intended for use with at least eight different delivery platforms, including submarine-launched missiles.
“Now that the delivery vehicles are almost ready, they will be producing warheads to secure second-strike capabilities, perhaps hundreds, not dozens,” he said.
According to KCNA, Kim “led the work of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles” and familiarized himself with the plan for “nuclear weapons deployment” and “nuclear counterattack operations.” He ordered “a far-sighted expansion of the production of military-grade nuclear materials” to “exponentially expand the nuclear arsenal.”
Pyongyang complains about South Korean and US exercises
The leader of North Korea issued these orders at a time when South Korea and the United States conduct joint military exercises. On Tuesday, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz entered the South Korean port of Busan.
Pyongyang strongly protested against these maneuvers, describing them as preparations for an invasion of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In retaliation, it has conducted a number of missile tests in recent weeks, including the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
After one short-range missile test, he announced that it was a simulation of a “nuclear strike on an important enemy target.”
Main photo source: KCNA/PAP/EPA