Northy Korea has a a nuclear-tipped bargaining chip
As the leaders of China and the United States sit down for a summit on Thursday, North Korea has made sure it also has something on the negotiating table: A nuclear-tipped bargaining chip.
North Korea launched a projectile on Wednesday, which U.S. officials said appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile that only traveled a fraction of its range before spinning out of control and crashing into the sea.
The launch was North Korea’s latest in a long series of missile and nuclear tests that have accelerated in their variation and intensity over the last two years.
And now, experts agree, North Korea is closing in on the ability to hit the United States with a missile, a goal that for decades has been the subject of Pyongyang’s vivid propaganda posters.
“They’ve been able to put a nuke on a missile for a while now,” said Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
“The stated purpose of the last test was to validate the nuclear weapon design that would arm all of North Korea’s missiles,” Lewis said of North Korea’s September 2016 nuclear test – its fifth and largest to date.
Since then, North Korea has further ramped up its tests and rhetoric, emphasizing a consistent message: To create a nuclear device small enough to mount on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and fire it at the United States.
“If we push the button, the bombs will be fired and reduce the U.S. to ashes,” an editorial in the ruling Workers’ Party newspaper the Rodong Sinmun said on Wednesday.
North Korea now has the strength to “wipe out” the United States “in a moment” with an H-bomb, the editorial said.
“This is again our warning”.
BARGAINING CHIP From last year, North Korea took the rare step of publicizing images of its missile equipment tests, convincing analysts that Pyongyang’s banned program was further along toward successfully testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) than first thought.
“The first few tests might fail, but that’s not good news because they’ll learn,” said Lewis. “How long it takes to make it work is anyone’s guess. Maybe a couple of years, maybe the first time”………
It was not clear if Wednesday’s launch was deliberately timed to coincide with Thursday’s summit between China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida, where North Korea is expected to be a prime topic of discussions.
Some experts think North Korea has tried to make sure the two world leaders are aware Pyongyang has a bargaining chip in any forthcoming moves to clam down on its weapons programs…….http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-bargaining-idUSKBN17811R
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