North Korea has reached the capability to mount nuclear warheads on its medium-range missiles, which can hit targets in the Korean Peninsula, Japan, China, and Russia, says a South Korean official.
“We believe they have accomplished miniaturization of a nuclear warhead to mount it on a Rodong missile,” a South Korean official said on Tuesday.
Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed that Pyongyang had successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads so they can be fit on ballistic missiles.
“They have the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a Rodong. Whether they will fire it like that is a political decision,” added the official who was speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added that Rodong missiles are capable of delivering a one-ton warhead over a distance of 2,000 kilometers.
Despite its alliance with South Korea, the US disagrees with Seoul’s assessment.
“We know that they’ve said they have that capability, and we have to take them at their word,” said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis on Tuesday. “But we have not seen them demonstrate it, so we don’t share that assessment necessarily but we do accept what they say as a threat we need to take as real.”
China sanctions on North Korea
In accordance to the UN sanctions, China banned the import of iron, iron ore, gold, titanium, rare earths, and several other materials from North Korea on Tuesday.
Exports of jet fuel and other petroleum products were also halted to the country.
In March, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution expending existing sanctions on the North over its missile and nuclear tests.
On January 6, North Korea said it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, its fourth nuclear test, vowing to build up its nuclear program as deterrence against potential aggression from the US.
A month later, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket which it said placed an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul denounced it as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.