When North Korea released this photo of their dear leader standing behinda miniaturized nuke earlier this month, the world gave out a collective chuckle. I know I did. The device in that photo looks like a prop for a sci-fi movie. On social media, everyone pointed out that it looked like a disco ball. Clearly Kim Jong-un had his lackeys cook up an intimidating looking model for the cameras. His threats are hollow right?
Normally yes. In this case however, there appears to be some truth behind that image. Undoubtedly, the device is a mock-up of some kind. If it were completely real, and loaded with plutonium or uranium, everyone standing around it would need protective gear. But according to some experts the model is surprisingly accurate.
Melisa Hanham, a North Korea analyst working for East Asia Nonproliferation Program, told NPR recently that “They definitely know what a bomb looks like. I mean, that model didn’t come out of thin air. It’s not a weird unicorn or anything. It has roots in the truth.”
Bruce Kinlinger, a former CIA analyst who was an expert on North Korea, said that while there’s no evidence to suggest that North Korea has a functioning ICBM to carry a miniaturized warhead, they are definitely making progress in that direction. “They’re on a path to achieving a nuclear warhead capability that they can deliver to the U.S., Japan and South Korea.”
Both analysts agreed that mini nuke model wasn’t just for show, and that many of its details were spot on. Its accuracy suggests that the regime in Pyongyang is on the right track to building a nuclear ICBM.
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