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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

People's Daily Online

North Korea has miniaturized nukes: Kim

People's Daily Online

(Global Times) 07:19, March 10, 2016

China urges calm after potential step toward strike on US

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country has successfully miniaturized a thermonuclear warhead, as Pyongyang continued to talk up its nuclear strike capabilities on Wednesday amid rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

While the North has boasted of mastering miniaturization before, this is the first time Kim has directly claimed the breakthrough that experts see as a game-changing step towards a credible North Korean nuclear threat to the US mainland.

Kim's comments came a day after the North's powerful National Defense Commission threatened pre-emptive nuclear attacks on South Korea and the US mainland, as Seoul and Washington began large-scale joint military exercises.

Military tensions have surged in the region since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch last month.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi called on all parties to keep calm, exercise restraint and avoid provoking each other after holding talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry via telephone on Wednesday.

'China's reasonable and legitimate strategic security concerns and interests must not be damaged when dealing with the current situation,' Wang was quoted as saying by foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei on Wednesday.

Hong also noted that China is firmly pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

'We stay committed to promoting and realizing denuclearization and maintaining peace and stability on the Peninsula,' Hong said. 'Disputes should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.'

The UN Security Council responded to North Korea's moves by imposing tough new sanctions last week, which Pyongyang has condemned and labeled as part of a US-led conspiracy to bring down Kim's regime by force.

'The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,' Kim said during a visit with nuclear technicians that was reported by state media on Wednesday.

'This can be called a true nuclear deterrent,' he said.

Kim also stressed that the miniaturized warheads were 'thermonuclear' devices, echoing the North's claim that the nuclear test it conducted in January was of a more powerful hydrogen bomb.

The North Korean ruling party's newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, carried a large front-page picture of Kim standing in front of what some experts said appeared to be a sized-down nuclear device.

South Korea's defense ministry was skeptical, saying its own assessment was that North Korea had 'not yet secured miniaturized nuclear warheads.'

North Korea's claim to have successfully tested an H-bomb in January was greeted with skepticism at the time, as the estimated yield was seen as far too low for a full-fledged thermonuclear device.

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