North Korea has miniaturised nuclear warheads and made them small enough to fit on ballistic missiles, Japan believes.
Tokyo defence chiefs warn in a new white paper that North Korea’s military activities pose a ‘serious and imminent threat’.
In last year’s report Japan said it was ‘possible’ that North Korea had achieved miniaturisation, but Tokyo now appears to have upgraded its assessment, according to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri.
Japan is seen as a ‘primary target’ of nearby North Korea’s weapons capabilities and fears that Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is ‘growing unabated’, experts say.
The latest findings come alongside newly-released pictures which suggest a North Korean plant may be leaking hazardous waste into a nearby river.
The Japanese report highlights the lack of progress on denuclearisation talks, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at MIT.
‘It is Japan that is most threatened, and probably the primary target of such a capability,’ he said.
‘So openly acknowledging it underscores Tokyo’s acute fears that North Korea’s nuclear program continues to grow unabated with no foreseeable plan to slow its growth, let alone eliminate them.’
The report is due to be approved at a Cabinet meeting in Japan in mid-September.
In last year’s Defence White Paper, Japan said ‘miniaturising a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile requires a considerably high degree of technological capacity’.
However, they said ‘it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads.’
Japan’s latest findings are similar to those of its allies, America and South Korea. Read more