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North Korea could soon conduct test of nuclear warhead, analysts say

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea could soon conduct test of nuclear warhead, analysts say
North Korea has accelerated the tests of missiles in 2016. Pyongyang may use the mid-range Musudan missile for its next test of a nuclear warhead, analysts in South Korea say. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- South Korea's military and local analysts say North Korea's next step may involve the testing of a miniaturized nuclear warhead mounted on a ballistic missile.

Although the South Korean forecasts are largely speculative, Kim Jong Un has previously stated the launch of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles should be pursued and made similar remarks last Wednesday, Newsis reported.

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"An all-out war with the U.S. imperialists could happen without warning, and in preparation for a nuclear war, the nuclear weapons development of the military sciences department must be accelerated, while at the same time it focuses on their means of delivery," Kim had said Wednesday, according to North Korea state media.

Kim had also said all possible measures must be taken to show North Korea is a major military power.

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South Korean military officials and experts have said North Korea has not yet conducted a test of a nuclear warhead, but one military official told Newsis the North is expected to continue tests and launches of ballistic missiles with nuclear capability.

Kim Dong-yup, a professor at Kyungnam University's Far East Institute, said Pyongyang has already demonstrated its possession of nuclear material, and that it is likely North Korea could detonate an unloaded nuclear warhead to test the device.

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Through the tests North Korea could verify whether the warhead is detonating properly especially during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

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The South Korean analyst added North Korea may use the mid-range Musudan or Rodong missile for its next test.

The speed at which North Korea is testing its weapons is raising concerns in Seoul.

On Monday in a meeting with senior secretaries of the presidential Blue House, President Park Geun-hye said if North Korea is capable of mounting a miniaturized warhead on a ballistic missile the development would "jeopardize the survival" of the South Korean people.

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