North Korea Could Be Planning to Test a Nuclear Device

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to develop more powerful means of attack, days after the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in more than four years.

According to the statement, North Korea may launch more launches and test nuclear devices soon. This is as part of its push to upgrade its arsenal and put pressure on President Biden while nuke diplomacy continues to stall. On Thursday last week, North Korea launched its new long-range Hwasong-17 rocket, marking the 12th round in this year’s weapons testing. This missile was said to have been designed to go anywhere on the U.S. continental.

During a photo session with scientists and others involved in the Hwasong-17 test, Kim expressed a resolve to build up the country’s attack capability to cope with threats, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

“Only when one is equipped with the formidable striking capabilities, overwhelming military power that cannot be stopped by anyone, one can prevent a war, guarantee the security of the country and contain and put under control all threats and blackmails by the imperialists,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Kim said North Korea will develop more “powerful strike means” and also expressed his conviction and expectation that his country will “more vigorously perfect the nuclear war deterrence of the country,” KCNA said.

North Korea claims the Hwasong-17 flew at a maximum altitude (6,248km) and traveled 1,090 km (680miles) in just 67 minutes before it landed in the waters between Japan’s Korean Peninsula and North Korea. Experts outside the country believe that the missile could travel up to 15,000 km (9320 miles) if it is launched on a normal trajectory. This would be less than its steep test angle.

Believed to be about 25 meters (82 feet) long, the Hwasong-17 is the North’s longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world’s biggest road-mobile ballistic missile system. The missile’s large size implies that it is intended to transport multiple nuclear warheads. However, the North has single-warhead ICBMs which could be used to strike most of the U.S.

The U.S. has been unable to convince North Korea that denuclearization is a condition of receiving economic and political benefits. Although the Biden administration has called for North Korea to resume talks, without preconditions whatsoever, Pyongyang responded that Washington should first drop hostilities and have taken steps to increase his arsenal of weapons.

Experts believe Kim may soon launch another ICBM, a rocket carrying a satellite or a nuclear weapon launch. This is all as he continues to improve his weapons technology and increase pressure on America.

South Korea reaffirmed its earlier assessment on Monday that North Korea may be restoring tunnels from its underground nuclear test site that were destroyed. Lee Jong-joo, a spokesperson at Seoul’s Unification Ministry, said that a nuclear test by North Korea would pose “a serious threat” to international security and that the North must halt any related acts immediately and return to talks.

The Hwasong-17 liftoff was the North’s most serious weapons launch since it tested a previously developed ICBM in November 2017. The North’s sixth nuclear test overall was its last, in September 2017.

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