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North Korea claims a successful nuclear warhead test

Pyongyang recently tested missiles that could potentially carry a nuclear warhead

CNN  — 

Could North Korea actually put a nuclear warhead atop a rocket and fire it at a potential adversary?

Some still doubt North Korea can make a warhead small enough, or miniaturize it enough, to mount atop a missile. But that’s what North Korea said it proved Friday.

South Korean monitors said Friday’s nuclear test had a yield equivalent to 10 kilotons of TNT, which would make it North Korea’s most powerful of five tests to date.

That blast came just days after North Korea test-fired three ballistic missiles, which landed in Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, about 155 miles (250 kilometers) from a Japanese island. Last month, a missile fired from a submarine also landed in the same zone.

‘A major concern for the region’

“They’ve been demonstrating not just the ability to cause a nuclear detonation, but to mount it and turn it into a weapon,” said John Delury, an assistant professor of East Asian studies at Yonsei University in South Korea.

“If there’s evidence that they can do that – or they have done that – then this is a major concern for the region,” Alexander Neill, a North Korea expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia, said.

Friday’s nuclear test was North Korea’s second this year, something that shows North Korea is “mastering the technology,” said Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

But analysts say there’s no way to determine the extent of North Korea’s missile technology until they actually use it.