This picture released from DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency on Aug 11, 2019, shows the test-fire of a new weapon at an undisclosed location in DPRK. (Photo / VCG)
TOKYO - Japan has upgraded its estimate of Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear weapons capability in an upcoming annual Defence White Paper, saying it seems Pyongyang has already achieved the miniaturization of warheads, the Yomiuri newspaper said in an unsourced report on Wednesday.
The report, to be approved at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September, will maintain the assessment that DPRK's military activities pose a "serious and imminent threat", the Yomiuri said
That compares with the assessment in last year's report in which the government said it was possible DPRK had achieved miniaturization, the Japanese daily said without citing sources.
The report, to be approved at a Cabinet meeting in mid-September, will maintain the assessment that DPRK's military activities pose a "serious and imminent threat", the Yomiuri said.
The DPRK's ability to build nuclear warheads small enough to fit on its ballistic missiles has been widely accepted for several years, but the Japanese report highlights the lack of progress on denuclearization talks aimed at curtailing the program, said Vipin Narang, a nuclear affairs expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
"It is Japan that is most threatened, and probably the primary target of such a capability," he said. "So openly acknowledging it underscores Tokyo’s acute fears that North Korea’s nuclear program continues to grow unabated with no foreseeable plan to slow its growth, let alone eliminate them."
The DPRK is also referred to North Korea.
The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s 2018 Defense White Paper, released in January, reported that DPRK’s ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons "appears to have reached a considerable level."
According to ROK media reports late last year, the ROK intelligence agency told lawmakers that DPRK had continued to miniaturize nuclear warheads even after the Singapore summit between Trump and Kim in June 2018.
At that time, the DPRK committed "to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" and destroyed some tunnels and buildings at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
But a second Trump-Kim meeting in February collapsed without an agreement, and DPRK has since resumed missile tests.
US envoy on DPRK Stephen Biegun was in Seoul this week to meet with ROK officials, and said he was prepared to engage with DPRK "as soon as we hear from ourcounterparts."
American officials have concluded for years that the DPRK had likely produced miniaturized nuclear warheads. A leaked report by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2017 concluded that DPRK had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, according to The Washington Post.
American officials have concluded for years that the DPRK had likely produced miniaturized nuclear warheads.
In last year's Defence White Paper, Japan said "miniaturising a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile requires a considerably high degree of technological capacity," and that "it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads."
HONG KONG NEWS