North Korea Says It Could Create Nuclear Weapons, Including Long-Range Missiles, Very, Very Soon
It's been heavily speculated that North Korea has the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction, and what U.S. government officials have said all along may be true. On Wednesday, North Korea officials announced its military could create nuclear weapons in the near future, having developed the key technology for it. According to CNN, this is, surprisingly, the first time North Korea has made a public announcement about its development and production of nuclear weapons.
North Korean military officials made the declaration in a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap News, the statement was delivered by a spokesperson for North Korea's National Defense Commission. "It is long since the DPRK's nuclear striking means have entered the stage of producing smaller nukes and diversifying them," the spokesperson said.
The statement added:
We have had the capability of miniaturizing nuclear warheads, as well as producing multiform weapons, for some time. We can also guarantee the accuracy not only of short-to-mid-range but also long-range rocket launches, for which we have had the technology for a long time.
It has been reported over the last year that North Korea's missile program contains about 1,000 missiles, including long-range rockets that could potentially strike the U.S. mainland. While many high-ranking officials in the United States have doubted these claims, a U.S. document leaked in April 2014 revealed that government officials believed a long-range missile fired from North Korea could reach the United States, BBC News reported at the time. However, U.S. officials believed it still wasn't a viable threat.
North Korea has also been conducting short-range missile tests over the last year, shooting them mostly into the Sea of Japan. Some of these missile tests occurred just weeks ago. These rocket tests have been confirmed by both South Korean and Pentagon officials.
In July 2014, following yet another short-range missile launch that landed in the Sea of Japan, the Pentagon made a public request to North Korea: End your military buildup. Pentagon Press spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters at the time:
We are aware of … reports that the North Koreans fired several short-range ballistic missiles. Rather than spend their money polluting the waters around North Korea, they should spend their money feeding their people. ... We continue to see the North Koreans expend resources on upgrading their military, on conducting tests of more and more sophisticated weapons systems, and, as we have for decades, we call on the North Koreans to stop their military buildup and work toward peace on the peninsula.
The Defense Department and White House have yet to comment on North Korea's recent nuclear-weapons announcement.
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