North Korean leader says will soon test nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. (Reuters/KCNA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country would soon test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday, in what would be a direct violation of UN resolutions that have the backing of Pyongyang’s chief ally, China.

Kim made the comments as he supervised what KCNA said was a successful simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile that measured the “thermodynamic structural stability of newly developed heat-resisting materials”.

“Declaring that a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads will be conducted in a short time to further enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability, he (Kim) instructed the relevant section to make prearrangement for them to the last detail,” the agency said.

South Korea’s defense ministry said there were no indications of activities at the North’s nuclear test site or its long-range rocket station, but that North Korea continued to maintain readiness to conduct nuclear tests.

The North Korean report comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula after the announcement of new UN sanctions on North Korea and as South Korean and U.S. troops stage their largest ever annual joint military exercises.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said North Korea would lead itself to self-destruction if it continued its confrontation with the international community.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook condemned the North Korean rhetoric, while questioning Pyongyang’s technological claims.

“We have not seen North Korea demonstrate capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon, and again, put it on a ballistic missile,” he told a news briefing.

China, which has been North Korea’s main ally but backed the tougher UN sanctions, urged caution and called for all sides to avoid actions that would exacerbate tensions.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48