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Japan's Defense Ministry advises caution on North Korea's 'deterrence'

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan's Defense Ministry advises caution on North Korea's 'deterrence'
Japan's Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Tuesday placing too much weight on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities can lead to increased tensions. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

TOKYO, April 12 (UPI) -- Japan's Defense Ministry says each time North Korea claims it has developed a deterrent against the United States, another concern arises, escalating tensions.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said that whenever North Korea tests a nuclear weapon or works toward weapons miniaturization, the actions are often interpreted as a strategic deterrent against the United States, NHK reported.

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North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development is frequently announced on Pyongyang state media.

Last week, Kim Jong Un had said nuclear threats must be met with nuclear power during what North Korea said was a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile engine.

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But Nakatani told reporters in Japan on Tuesday that if governments place too much confidence in North Korea's deterrence or "misrecognize" its potential, it would only lead to increased military provocations.

It is important to closely monitor the North, Nakatani said.

North Korea's state news agency KCNA reported Saturday that Pyongyang has a "powerful nuclear warhead" capable of hitting the United States.

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Kim was quoted as saying the weapon could "turn targets into powder so that they may never recover on this planet."

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One analyst is calling the North's recent announcement a "disturbing development."

John Schilling, an aerospace engineer, wrote on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, that the North's April 9 test of a "large liquid-fuel engine" should "put to rest, once and for all, all claims that the North's WMD programs are a hoax."

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The "test demonstrated that North Korea has an even greater capability at a more advanced state of development than previously anticipated," Schilling wrote in his analysis.

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