Published On: Wed, Aug 21st, 2019

World War 3: Japan on alert as North Korea miniaturises nuclear warheads | World | News

Tokyo has received an intelligence document warning North Korea’s military activities pose a “serious and imminent threat” to the country. North Korea’s attempts to miniaturise nuclear warheads and fit them onto its ballistic missiles has been widely accepted years. But the Japanese report highlights the lack of progress on denuclearisation talks aimed at curtailing the Kim Jong-un’s weapons programme

Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, said: “It is Japan that is most threatened, and probably the primary target of such a capability.

“So openly acknowledging it underscores Tokyo’s acute fears that North Korea’s nuclear program continues to grow unabated with no foreseeable plan to slow its growth, let alone eliminate them.”

South Korea’s 2018 Defence White Paper, released in January, reported that North Korea’s ability to miniaturise nuclear weapons “appears to have reached a considerable level.”

According to South Korean media reports late last year, the South Korean intelligence agency told officials North Korea had continued to miniaturise nuclear warheads even after the Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in June 2018.

At that time, North Korea committed “to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” and destroyed some tunnels and buildings at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

But a second Trump-Kim meeting in February collapsed without an agreement, and North Korea has since resumed missile tests.

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US envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was in Seoul this week to meet with South Korean officials and said he was prepared to engage with North Korea “as soon as we hear from our counterparts”.

US diplomats have concluded for years that North Korea had likely produced miniaturised nuclear warheads.

A leaked report by the Defence Intelligence Agency in 2017 concluded that North Korea had successfully produced a miniaturised nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.

Meanwhile, the commandant of the US Marine Corps said the US, Japan and South Korea shared a common view of the threat posed by North Korea and the long-term threat to stability from China.

General David Berger, who was confirmed as commander of the Marines in June, told reporters in Tokyo: “I am confident we share a common view of the threats to the region.”

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