According to the official KCNA news agency, the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, has called for further nuclear tests to improve the country’s attack capability.
Kim reportedly watched a test launch of a ballistic missile, but the report did not specify when the launch took place. However there were two short-range missiles launched on Thursday, which flew 300 miles before landing in the sea, according to Reuters.
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“Dear comrade Kim Jong Un said work … must be strengthened to improve nuclear attack capability and issued combat tasks to continue nuclear explosion tests to assess the power of newly developed nuclear warheads and tests to improve nuclear attack capability,” KCNA said.
This week Kim said that North Korea had managed to miniaturize nuclear warheads and put them on a ballistic missile. The tense situation on the Korean peninsula has worsened of late after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in January, its fourth nuclear test.
Last month the country also fired a long-range rocket, which led to a new sanctions resolution from the United Nations Security Council. Pyongyang has rejected UN sanctions, which ban nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
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Despite sanctions North Korea has still managed to develop a large number of short-range missiles, and continues to work on long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said: “It’s simply rash and thoughtless behavior by someone who has no idea how the world works,” when reporters asked about Kim’s declarations.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on North Korea to “cease destabilizing acts,” underlining that he is “gravely concerned” by the situation.
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China is North Korea’s key economic and diplomatic ally, and its top newspaper, the People’s Daily, said that both sides should be “patient and brave” and resume talks.
South Korean officials say that they do not believe that the North has managed to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, nor that it had developed a viable intercontinental ballistic missile. The U.S. Defense Department said that it has not seen any evidence of successful warhead miniaturization.
However Admiral Bill Gortney told the U.S. Senate that it was “prudent” to assume that Pyongyang had miniaturized a warhead and put it on a missile that could strike the U.S.
“Intel community gives it a very low probability of success, but I do not believe the American people want (me) to base my readiness assessment on a low probability,” he said.
The past few days have seen the beginning of large military drills between South Korea and the United States. In response Kim has been issuing instructions on how to fight the two allies. North Korea calls the drills “nuclear war moves” and threatened a military offensive in response.
Kim ordered North Korea to be ready to use nuclear weapons. Pyongyang is officially still at war with the United States and South Korea because the 1950-53 Korean War was ended by a truce, not a peace deal.