PYONGYANG, North Korea, March 9 (UPI) -- North Korean state media showed off a photo of what it says is leader Kim Jong Un with a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.
"The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them," North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Wednesday, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. "This can be called true nuclear deterrent."
The commander of U.S. forces in South Korea told the media in 2014 that he believed North Korea had the ability to miniaturize a nuclear device. In 2015, North Korea publicly announced that it has this capability. But many analysts outside the country have debated whether North Korea can really miniaturize nuclear warheads to be installed on ballistic missiles. If true, this could pose a serious threat to North Korea's neighbors as well as to the United States.
North Korea said it tested a nuclear bomb on Jan. 6, and has recently accelerated its belligerent rhetoric in response to recent additional sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
In January, a Japanese government official said that capability could not be ruled out. Commenting on a front-page story in a Chinese state-run newspaper on North Korea's nuclear efforts, Akira Nagatsuma of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan said, "North Korea is a very closed society and one cannot say for certain, but based on North Korea behavior and the nuclear test of Jan. 6, this is the government's judgment."