N.Korean Nuclear Warhead Test 'Imminent'

      April 07, 2016 11:28

      There is a strong possibility of North Korea testing a miniaturized nuclear warhead in the near future, Defense Minister Han Min-koo told reporters Wednesday.

      The North has been scrambling to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile, and there are indications it has made some progress in that direction.

      "North Korea can conduct a nuclear test any time," Han said. His ministry believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued an order "soon."

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looks at what is believed to be a prototype nuclear warhead during a visit to a missile factory in this screen grab from [North] Korean Central TV on March 9, 2015. /Yonhap

      The military here believes North Korea has already completed preparations. Han said it could be detonated underground or without fissile material in the air.

      Han also said a new 300-mm multiple launch rocket system is likely to be deployed at the end of this year, which has a maximum range of 200 km. That would place South Korea's military headquarters within reach.

      North Korea is also developing a solid-fuel rocket which does not require a long period of fueling prior to launch, making it more difficult for the South's defense systems to react.

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