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WaPo: North Korea has a miniaturized nuclear warhead for ICBM’s

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North Korea

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has just upped the stakes in the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

According to a report from the Washington Post who cites U.S. intelligence officials, the North Korean regime has successfully developed a miniaturized nuclear weapon small enough to attach to an ICBM capable of striking the mainland United States.

“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, in an excerpt read to The Washington Post. The assessment’s broad conclusions were verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document. It is not yet known whether the reclusive regime has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korea officially last year claimed to have done so.

This latest development comes on the heels of a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis last month concluding Kim Jong Un could have as many as 60 nuclear weapons at his disposal. This number hasn’t been confirmed and has been disputed however if the WaPo report is accurate, North Korea’s progress in becoming a full-fledged nuclear power is progressing at a more rapid pace than originally suspected.

Since 2006, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests including a 20-to 30-kiloton detonation on September 9, 2016. That particular test was believed to have been twice as powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima back in 1945. The regime has also been extremely active conducting ICBM tests with their latest coming just a couple of weeks ago.

Although the North Korean regime has taken a huge step in advancing their nuclear weapons technology, they still have some hurdles in front of them. Notably it’s still believed the DPRK has to further develop missile reentry as well as targeting for their nuclear capabilities to be fully effective. Still given the amount of time it’s believed for them to have been able to produce nuclear warheads small enough to attach to a ICBM, reentry and targeting could just be around the corner. Furthermore, this means nothing to countries like South Korea and Japan who could potentially be devastated by a nuclear strike from North Korea without advanced targeting or reentry measures.

The pressure is now on Donald Trump and the rest of the World community. Trump has mentioned in the past that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. National Security advisor H.R. McMaster reaffirmed this position during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show this past Saturday:

“We have to provide all options . . . and that includes a military option,” he said. But McMaster said the administration would do everything short of war to “pressure Kim Jong Un and those around him, such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearize.” The options said to be under discussion ranged from new multilateral negotiations to reintroducing U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula, officials familiar with internal discussions said.

Also this past weekend China and Russia supported a U.N. Security Council’s decision to impose “punishing” new sanctions on the North Korean regime which is vital when it comes to continued pressure on Kim Jong Un to abandon his hostilities on the penisula. This included a ban on exports that supply up to a third of North Korea’s annual $3 billion earnings according to the Washington Post. There’s no telling if the U.N. will ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Kim Jong Un whose country has already been ravaged by sanctions yet still continue to move forward with their weapons programs. 

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