North Korea to test nuclear warhead, state media reports

Reports: North Korea to test nuclear warhead, missiles
Reports: North Korea to test nuclear warhead, missiles

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Reports: North Korea to test nuclear warhead, missiles 03:14

Story highlights

  • South Korea: North Korea "walking the path of self-destruction"
  • State media: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered tests of a nuclear warhead
  • Testing will occur in a "short time," KCNA reports

(CNN)North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered tests of a nuclear warhead in the "nearest future," state-run news agency KCNA said Tuesday.

According to KCNA, the proposed tests are the result of years of development and "diligent research" into heat-resistant materials and technology.
    Kim Jong Un guided an "environmental simulation for re-entry by the warhead tip," the report said.
    Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered ballistic rockets tests to "enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability."
    South Korean President, Park Geun-Hye, warned North Korea should be ready to accept the consequences if it did not curb its nuclear ambitions.
    "North Korea will walk the path of self-destruction if it does not change," Park said at a cabinet meeting.
    South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman, Moon Sang-kyun, also questioned the authenticity of the claims.
    "It's North Korea's one-way statement. From our analysis on various sources, it has not achieved re-entry technology," he said at a press briefing.
    North Korean leader Kim Jung-un reviewing a ballistic rocket simulation.

    How serious are these threats?

    This KCNA report is the latest in a string of combative statements and actions from the North Korean regime in recent weeks.
    Last Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea.
    On Saturday, the United States and South Korea began an eight-week series of annual joint military exercises billed as the largest ever.
    North Korea said last week that it would make a "pre-emptive and offensive nuclear strike" in response to the exercises.
    "Every year these exercises get North Korea a little excited," Daniel Pinkston, Former North East Asia Senior Analyst at International Crisis Group, told CNN.
    "There are a few things going on that are driving this" in addition to the exercises, he said.
    south korea joint military ivan watson lok_00030106.jpg
    south korea joint military ivan watson lok_00030106

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    "The North Korean Party Workers' congress is coming up in May, so there's enthusiasm to present successes before then."
    Pyongyang's true capacity in this area remains something of a mystery.
    "They have an incentive to exaggerate their capabilities -- particularly for their domestic audience -- to demonstrate awe and power, but we don't know the exact capabilities," said Pinkston.
    'We know they have conducted four tests, so they have a lot of data," says Pinkston. "We also know this is important to them and they allocate a lot of resources to it."
    He added that a particular concern is that an accident could spark disaster amid heightened tensions.
    "In times of crisis there could be a misperception, or a misreading of the situation, and the weapon could be used and that would be catastrophic. So that is quite worrisome."

    Tense times

    Official: N. Korea possibly tested H-bomb components.
    north korea hydrogen bomb components possible test hancocks cnni nr lklv_00013609

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    A KCNA report earlier this month said North Korea claims to have miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles.
    The agency published photographs that appeared to show Kim visiting a facility where the warheads had been made to fit on ballistic missiles -- the first time state media has released images showing its purported miniaturized weapons technology.
    CNN cannot independently confirm the photos' veracity or the claims of the KCNA.