September 12, 2016 10:14
North Korea's fifth nuclear test on Friday came just eight months after the last in a cycle that is getting ever shorter and suggests accelerating progress.
The North conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006, the second in May 2009 and the third in February 2013, but since then the pace has picked up alarmingly.
The initial stages of developing a nuclear weapon are fraught with trial and errors, and it takes time before the bugs are smoothed out. A shortened test cycle therefore shows a considerable level of technological development.
It also raises fears that North Korea has more fissile material than previously thought.
"It's possible that North Korea now has enough plutonium and uranium to conduct a wide variety of nuclear weapons tests over a short period, and the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri is big enough to accommodate so many tests," Prof. Kim Seung-pyong at Chosun University said.
"We urgently need to check if there are more facilities in the North to produce nuclear weapons materials or if it's importing them from overseas."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com