They’re at it again- North Korea issuing alarming and attention-grabbing statements about its nuclear program.
The director of the North Korean Atomic Energy Institute said, “If the U.S. and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the DPRK and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time.”
Today’s statement from Pyongyang however provided few details about its “specific grievances” with U.S. policy.
Experts say Kim Jong Un’s regime may be preparing a nuke test. This, only several weeks after tensions flared between North and South Korea following landmine blasts and artillery fire inside the DMZ.
During the spring of 2013 — a period of heightened tensions in the region– Pyongyang announced that it would ‘revamp and restart’ the facilities at their Yongbyon nuclear complex, so this recent statement that it’s up and running comes as little surprise, reports CNN.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence said he believed that “North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the reactor.”
Yongbyon complex, which includes a uranium enrichment plant and a plutonium production reactor, is operating normally – officials told the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
According to a former U.N. weapons inspector, Kim Jong Un’s regime may already have 10 to 15 nuclear weapons. In a February report, David Albright predicted that Pyongyang could “increase its stockpile to anywhere between 20 and roughly 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.”
In an interview with CNN, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea said, “We’ve moved, over time, a good deal of missile defense capability to the region.” That interview with Mark Lippert aired before North Korea issued the recent statement about its nuclear program.
Shortly afterwards, the South Korean government said it was “looking into the matter with close cooperation with the U.S.”
Pyongyang has threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States before. But there are still serious doubts about whether it has the missile technology to target the U.S. mainland. According to the CNN article, observers believe North Korea could launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite in October — around the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s ruling party.
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