Korea

What will Kim do next? Sixth nuclear test seen critical for North Korea

North Korea says it has developed intercontinental missiles capable of targeting any place in the United States.

Now comes the hard part of fulfilling the declared goal of its leader Kim Jong Un: perfecting a nuclear device small and light enough to fit on the missile without affecting its range as well as making it capable of surviving re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

To do that, weapons experts say, the isolated state needs to carry out at least another nuclear test, its sixth, and more tests of long-range missiles.

North Korea’s two tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month likely carried a payload lighter than any nuclear warhead it is currently able to produce, the experts said.

One way to have a lighter warhead would be to concentrate on developing a thermonuclear device, or hydrogen bomb, which would offer much greater explosive yield relative to size and weight.

Pyongyang claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb, but this has not been proven, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Program at the Federation of American Scientists.

Read more at Reuters

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Christine Kim and David Brunnstrom