A North Korea nuclear test over the Pacific? Logical, terrifying
Reuters ^ | 22 Sep 2017 | Hyonhee Shin, Linda Sieg
Posted on 9/22/2017, 10:23:39 AM by mandaladon
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – Detonating a nuclear-tipped missile over the Pacific Ocean would be a logical final step by North Korea to prove the success of its weapons program but would be extremely provocative and carry huge risks, arms control experts said on Friday.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested leader Kim Jong Un was considering testing “an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb” over the Pacific in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat at the United Nations to “totally destroy” the country.
“It may mean North Korea will fire a warhead-tipped (intermediate range) Hwasong-12 or Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile and blow it up a few hundred kilometers above the Pacific Ocean,” said Yang Uk, a senior researcher at the Korea Defence and Security Forum in Seoul.
“They may be bluffing, but there is a need for them to test their combined missile-bomb capability. They could have already prepared the plan and are now trying to use Trump’s remarks as an excuse to make it happen,” said Yang.
Such an atmospheric test would be the first globally since China detonated a device in 1980, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Tests of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles are rarer still. The United States’ only test of an operational ballistic missile with a live warhead was fired from submarine far out in the Pacific Ocean in 1962.
China was widely condemned for a similar test with a missile that exploded over its Lop Nur test site in the country’s west in 1966.
North Korea’s six nuclear tests to date have all been underground, the most recent earlier this month by far its largest.
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