- - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

South Korean intelligence has concluded that North Korea has the capability to put a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile. This development will threaten the entire Pacific theater with nuclear destruction, including long-term American allies like Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, not to mention the 28,000 U.S. military troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent to the North.

“We believe they have accomplished miniaturization of a nuclear warhead to mount it on a Rodong missile,” said the South Korean official, who has knowledge of South Korea’s assessment of the North’s nuclear program. The official spoke to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, reported Reuters.

The Rodong missile can fire a 1 tonne (1,100 lb) warhead a distance of up to 2,000 km (1,250 miles), the official said. That would put all of South Korea, most of Japan and parts of Russia and China in range. “We believe they have the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a Rodong. Whether they will fire it like that is a political decision,” said the official.

The U.S. government seems to concur in this analysis. “We know that they’ve said they have that capability, and we have to take them at their word,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said at a briefing for reporters 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.”

The development of this threat from the fallout of the failure of the Clinton initiated deal with North Korea calls again into question the wisdom of negotiating a similar agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which now is testing ballistic missile technology and will have nuclear weapons capability in a period of years.

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