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Kim Jong Un warns of impending North Korean nuclear tests

Published 15/03/2016

Kim Jong Un's warning is an escalation of the North's threats as it reacts to annual military drills between Seoul and Washington
Kim Jong Un's warning is an escalation of the North's threats as it reacts to annual military drills between Seoul and Washington

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his country will soon conduct a nuclear warhead explosion test and launch rockets capable of carrying atomic warheads.

His warning is an escalation of the North's threats as it furiously reacts to annual military drills between South Korea and the US.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said Kim issued the order while guiding a successful simulated test of a re-entry vehicle, which is needed to return a warhead safely back into the Earth's atmosphere from a long-range missile launch.

Outside experts have said the North does not yet have a workable re-entry vehicle, meaning the country does not have a reliable missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Kim issued the order for the tests "in a short time", according to the Korean Central News Agency, but it did not say if Kim gave specific dates.

It is unclear if the tests would happen soon, given that any tests would invite harsher international sanctions after the country was hit by the toughest UN Security Council sanctions in two decades in early March for a nuclear test and long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

In the past, North Korea has typically conducted nuclear tests and rocket launches every three to four years.

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