According to a confidential UN report, communist North Korea is pressing on with its nuclear weapons program and several unnamed countries believe it has developed mini nuclear devices to fit its ballistic missiles.
The United Nations submitted to a UN Security Council committee on Monday a report stating that North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons ignoring sanctions and several unidentified countries believe that it has “probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles.”
According to the UN report seen by Reuters, the past six nuclear tests performed by North Korea could have helped it to develop mini nuclear devices, Reuters said.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear program, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor. A Member State assessed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing production of nuclear weapons,” the report said, according to Taipei Times.
South Korean defense ministry spokesperson Col. Moon Hong-sik said on Tuesday, “Our military is closely monitoring North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities, and South Korea and the United States are maintaining a close cooperation system,” according to Yonhap News Agency.
South Korea assessed that North Korean technology to miniaturize a nuclear warhead had reached a “considerable” level, Moon said at a regular press briefing, according to Yonhap.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week that the possession of nuclear weapons is the best guarantee to the country’s safety, according to state-run media.
“Now we have become able to reliably defend ourselves against any form of high-intensity pressure and military threat,” Kim said, adding, “Thanks to our reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrence, the word war would no longer exist on this land, and the security and future of our state will be guaranteed forever.”
North Korea has long claimed that its nuclear weapons are defensive, but officials with the United States and United Nations have said it would allow Pyongyang to adopt more hostile, threatening tactics in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2018, Kim and President Donald Trump met for the first time in Singapore, raising the hopes that the country could be open to ending its nuclear threats in exchange for sanctions relief from the United States. A second meeting in 2019 in Vietnam between the two fell apart before talks stalled.
Pyongyang stopped conducting nuclear tests after September 2017 before talks with the United States.
Also in 2018, North Korea blew up the tunnels at its main nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, and said this was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing. The country however did not allow experts to witness the site being dismantled.
The UN report said that since there is no indication of a comprehensive demolition, one unnamed country had assessed that North Korea could rebuild and reinstall the infrastructure needed to support a nuclear test—within three months.
The UN experts also say North Korea is violating sanctions through quote “illicit maritime exports of coal,” though this was temporarily suspended due to the global pandemic.
Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.