North Korea could be separating isotopes used to manufacture sophisticated and more powerful nuclear bombs, United States experts warned Wednesday, after Pyongyang announced its main atomic weapons complex was fully operational. Furthermore, later that year, the country threatened Washington and Seoul with nuclear strikes.
Kim Jong-Un’s evil regime has previously boasted of its nuclear capabilities, however the reality of the isolated nation’s ability to effectively deploy nuclear warheads is unclear.
Tuesday’s announcement comes on the back of strong hints from Pyongyang on Monday that it is preparing to launch satellites mounted on long-range rockets to mark the ruling community party’s 70th anniversary on October 10.
Pyongyang’s confirmation, by the head of the North’s Atomic Energy Institute (AEI), came hard on the heels of suggestions by the chief of the national space agency of a possible satellite rocket launch next month. The country has also conducted a series of long-range missile or rocket launches since 1998.
“Ground-based interceptors to Alaska, surface combatants to the Western Pacific, a THAAD battery on Guam, another radar in Japan in order to be ready and vigilant for anything the North Koreans may or may not do”, detailed Lippert.
North Korea has made bellicose threats against its neighbours and the U.S. before, often to coincide with annual joint military exercises held by South Korea and U.S. forces.
More than 66,000 South Koreans are now living without being able to meet their loved ones across the border following the Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving South and North Korea technically at war. North Korea is estimated to have enough material that, if they could miniaturize properly, they could make about a dozen weapons.
North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests so far, in 2006, 2009 and 2013. North Korea is believed by experts to have enough fissile material to build 12 or more nuclear weapons, and is believed by US and South Korean officials to be working to miniaturise a nuclear warhead to mount on adelivery vehicle.
On Tuesday, state media reported that the country’s main nuclear facilities at Yongbyong have been, quote “rearranged, changed, or readjusted and they started normal operation”.
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility had been restarted two years ago-along with uranium enrichment.
China also weighed in following the North’s announcement, with a Foreign Ministry representative commenting “U.N. Security Council resolutions should be followed through”. North Korea demands the unconditional resumption of negotiations, while the U.S. says that Pyongyang must first take concrete steps demonstrating its denuclearization commitments. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.
Urging Pyongyang to refrain from what would be a “serious act of provocation”, Seoul said it would not hesitate to press the UN Security Council for “a quick and effective response”.