March 10, 2016 12:57
North Korea now claims it has miniaturized a nuclear weapon which is "standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles" and will manufacture more missiles to deliver a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made the comments during a visit to a nuclear facility, and the official media dutifully pictured what may be a nuclear warhead and related diagrams.
The claim is unlikely to be true, but judging by the external appearance of the detonator and the lengths the North went to trumpet its achievement, the country appears to have made some, or even considerable, progress in that direction.
North Korea's latest announcement is both a protest against the U.S. and a direct threat to South Korea. Kim is seeking to use nuclear weapons as a bargaining tool with the U.S. to extract concessions.
If North Korea develops a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile, it will also be capable of mounting nuclear warheads on shorter-range Rodong and Scud missiles which can hit anywhere in South Korea.
There is no need to panic at every threat the North utters. But the government here needs to take a close look at the North's latest claim and think of an adequate response.
If North Korea is indeed dangerously close to mounting a nuclear warhead on to a missile, Seoul must completely overhaul its security strategy. It is not enough to simply strengthen the so-called "kill chain" whereby the military can detect signs of an impending missile launch by North Korea and preemptively destroy. Instead the government must think seriously about preparing preemptive and precision strikes and removing the North Korean leadership altogether. It is time to act decisively.
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