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North Korea, not known for its honesty, claims it can miniaturize its nuclear weapons

Reuters/KCNA
Kim Jong Un poses at a purported test-fire of a strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile.
By Lily Kuo
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

North Korea says it now has the technology to make nuclear warheads small enough to mount on missiles, an announcement that could add to worries that Pyongyang is a potent threat to regional stability.

“We have had the capability of miniaturizing nuclear warheads, as well as producing multiform weapons, for some time,” the country’s military said in a statement published by the government-controlled Korean Central News Agency.

But many observers believe North Korea’s military and nuclear claims are routinely inflated. Today, analysts and a senior United States Navy admiral said that recent photos of a purported North Korean missile launch from a submarine earlier this month were doctored, and that the projectiles may in fact have been fired from an underwater barge.

There is little that is certain about what happens under the leadership of the young Kim Jong-un. Earlier this month, the South Korean intelligence agency reportedly told lawmakers that North Korea’s defense chief was brutally executed for falling asleep during a meeting—but the agency quickly walked back those reports, saying only that he had been purged from office, and may still be alive.

Chinese uranium enrichment experts said earlier this year that they believe North Korea has a nuclear arsenal almost twice the size of what experts in the United States have estimated. Some US defense officials say that North Korea may now be able to mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile technically capable of reaching the US. Either way, the unlikeliest place for reliable information on what is happening in the hermit kingdom is the government itself.

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