The government of North Korea has announced that it is seeking to conduct its fifth-ever nuclear test, placing a miniaturized warhead on a ballistic missile, “in a short time,” following weeks of threats that Pyongyang will attack South Korea and the United States with nuclear bombs if it feels such a move necessary.
The nation’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced Tuesday that dictator Kim Jong-un ordered “a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several types of ballistic rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads … in a short time,” specifically to ensure that North Korea has the capacity to strike another country with a nuclear weapon.
The article announcing this test also notes that Kim is seeking to schedule tests for “estimating the heat stability of ballistic rocket warhead tip … and the corrosion of heat-resistant coating material.” Kim allegedly also personally “guided an environmental simulation for reentry of the rocket warhead tip on the spot.”
Kim allegedly said of the testing:
We have proudly acquired the reentry technology, possessed by a few countries styling themselves military powers, by dint of self-reliance and self-development, thus making great progress in the ballistic rocket technology that helps increase the independence of the country’s defence capability and munitions industry and remarkably enhance the invincible might of the powerful revolutionary Paektusan army.
Missile re-entry technology is pivotal for North Korea to be able to strike the United States, South Korean news agency Yonhap notes. Yonhap cites South Korean officials as clarifying that no evidence exists to believe North Korea will be able to conduct these tests, because they lack the technology to do so. “Based on our military’s analysis, we believe that the North has yet to secure such technology … It is the North’s unilateral claim,” said Moon Sang-gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of Defense.
All of these tests violate United Nations sanctions on North Korea, which were significantly expanded earlier this year following months of provocations from the communist regime. So far in 2016, North Korea has detonated a nuclear weapon, which North Korean officials claimed was a hydrogen bomb, but nuclear scientists dispute, tested a ballistic missile, and shot multiple rockets into the East Sea as a warning to South Korea.
Most recently, Kim Jong-un appeared in photos next to what Pyongyang alleged was a miniaturized nuclear warhead, capable of being mounted on a ballistic missile and hitting long-range targets. The images reinforced the belief that a recent “satellite launch” by the rogue nation was a disguised test of a ballistic missile, used to place the “satellite” into orbit. There is no independent evidence that the object launched into space has functioned properly as a satellite since leaving earth. North Korea nonetheless declared the experiment a “success” and announced more planned launches.
The announcement of future plans for nuclear bomb testing was following by the belligerent screeds now typical of North Korean media. In the official state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, the government published multiple columns calling the United States and South Korea “provocateurs” and “warmongers”: “The nuclear war hysteria of the U.S. imperialists and the Park Geun Hye group denying it is as foolish as precipitating their self-destruction,” one column titled “Victory is Ours,” for example, reads.
The attacks are not new. In addition to these, North Korea has published pieces in the past month threatening to launch a nuclear attack on Manhattan and the “U.S. mainland” generally, as well as South Korea’s presidential palace. Pyongyang has boasted of a likely “preemptive nuclear strike of justice,” while calling South Korean president Park Geun-hye an “ugly female bat.”
The South Korean Foreign Ministry has responded to the announcement of future tests with a threat to impose “unbearable punishment” on the Kim regime. “If North Korea directly challenges the international community’s united resolve and conducts another provocation, it will face the international community’s unbearable punishment and take the path to self-destruction,” spokesman Cho June-hyuck said Monday.