N. Korea Claims It Can Make Mini Nukes
Not so fast, says US Joint Chiefs vice chair
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2015 7:14 AM CDT
A South Korean man watches a TV news program showing an image published in a North Korean newspaper of North Korea's ballistic missile believed to have been launched from underwater, May 9, 2015.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-oon)

(Newser) China warned us. Less than a month after North Korea says it fired a missile off a submarine, the country's National Defense Commission is now claiming it can craft mini nuclear weapons that fit on the tips of such missiles, Yonhap reports. "We have had the capability of miniaturizing nuclear warheads, as well as producing multiform weapons, for some time," reads a statement from the Korean Central News Agency, per CNN. "We can also guarantee the accuracy not only of short- to mid-range but also long-range rocket launches, for which we have had the technology for a long time." Even though North Korea is known for its chest-thumping and unverifiable claims, this particular one about weapons miniaturization is believable to US military officials who've been keeping tabs on the situation, CNN notes.

Three main steps are involved in building and launching a nuke-carrying ICBM—creating the mini weapons in the first place, as well as ensuring they're strong enough to endure the long flight and solid enough to make it through re-entry—and Jeffrey Lewis, an arms expert who writes for a North Korea watchdog blog, believes Pyongyang can carry out all three, per CNN. However, the reliability and accuracy of such missiles is still up in the air, Lewis adds. Meanwhile, the vice chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff counters that North Korea is still "many years" from submarine-launched ICBMs, per the Washington Post (he believes photos of the recently reported launch were doctored). "They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe," Adm. James Winnefeld said. (Local lobster breeders are probably relieved Kim Jong Un is distracted.)