Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

North Korea closing in on nuclear missile, experts believe

WASHINGTON — Scientists and security experts studying North Korea's nuclear test on Tuesday believe the rogue nation is closing in on being able to place a nuclear weapon atop a missile and loft it at another country.

That, all believe, raised the stakes of the dangerous game the North Koreans have been playing for the past decade. Some experts believe the options in dealing with North Korea are now just two: a pre-emptive strike on North Korea's nuclear facilities or targeting any rocket or missile not long after it leaves the launch pad.

"What matters in these tests aren't the missiles or even the devices, it's the North Korean intent," said Stephen Long, an international security expert at the University of Richmond in Virginia. "These are just the latest moves in a long game North Korea is playing. It's an attempt to gain leverage."

Experts agree the most recent moves have been impressive. It was only 2002 when North Korea acknowledged a secret nuclear program and only 2006 when it had its first underground test.

As recently as April 2012, the North Koreans appeared to be continuing a pattern of failure in their rocket technology, as a barely disguised attempt at a long-range missile launch broke apart early. But if that test failed, their December test of the same style of missile, the Unha-3, was a success, a step toward developing something that someday could threaten American shores.

And then came Tuesday's nuclear test, in which the North Koreans claimed to have miniaturized their device — a key step toward being able to place a nuclear payload atop a rocket.

Philip Coyle III, a former associate director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, said that while concerns have ebbed and flowed about the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, "It's not too early now to worry about it."

Unlike Iran, which the United States accuses of working to develop a nuclear weapons capability, North Korea "already has it." The thinking in defense circles, he said, is becoming "you wouldn't want to wait until they launched to deal with this problem."

David Albright, a former U.N. nuclear weapons inspector who heads the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington policy institute, said that even before the test, he had assessed that North Korea could develop a warhead for its No-Dong rocket, a ballistic missile with a range of 800 miles, which puts Japan within its range.

North Korea closing in on nuclear missile, experts believe 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  2. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921
  3. Long day of diplomacy: Tillerson visits Afghanistan, Iraq

    Military

    BAGHDAD — Far from the Washington murmurs about his future, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to two of America's enduring war zones Monday, prodding leaders in Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out to longtime rivals.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, center, speaks Monday at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, accompanied by Gen. John Nicholson, left, and Special Charge d’Affaires Amb. Hugo Llorens.
  4. Head-on crash kills Wesley Chapel teacher and Zephyrhills man

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Two men, including a high school math teacher, were killed Monday in a head-on crash on Morris Bridge Road, deputies said.

    Shackelford
  5. Pinellas sees slight increase in black and first-year teachers

    Blogs

    A year after the Pinellas County school district was chastised in a state report for clustering inexperienced teachers in the state's most struggling schools, the district has reported a first look at its teacher corps.

    The Pinellas County school district has taken a first look at first-year teachers in struggling schools and minority hiring, both of which ticked slightly upward.