South Korean TVs were tuned into the latest developments. Photo / AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned of impending tests of a nuclear warhead explosion and ballistic missiles capable of carrying atomic warheads, state media reported yesterday, in an escalation of threats against Seoul and Washington.
Kim issued the order for the tests “in a short time”, according to the Korean Central News
Agency. The KCNA dispatch did not say if Kim gave specific dates for the tests.
The announcement comes as North Korea
said it had mastered a key remaining technology needed to develop a reliable long-range missile capable of striking the US
It is unclear if the tests would happen soon, given that any tests would likely invite harsher international sanctions after the country was hit by the toughest United Nations Security Council sanctions in two decades earlier this month for a nuclear test and long-range rocket launch conducted this year.
In the past, North Korea has typically conducted nuclear tests and rocket launches every three to four years.
Kim’s threats came as his country furiously reacts to ongoing annual military drills by Seoul and Washington, which Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal.
Kim said “a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads will be conducted in a short time to further enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability,” according to KCNA.
He made the comments while guiding a successful simulated test of a re-entry vehicle, which is needed to return a warhead safely back into the Earth’s atmosphere from a long-range missile launch.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Park Geun Hye warned that North Korea was on a dangerous path. “North Korea will walk the path of self-destruction if it does not change,” Park said at a cabinet meeting.