North Korea claims to have miniaturized its nuclear warheads

While there is a considerable hierarchy in defense between the countries that have nuclear weapons and those that do not, there is also a significant hierarchy between the few countries that have such weapons. Beyond the power of the nuclear warheads possessed, and the number of them within the arsenal, the technologies of the vectors capable of transporting these weapons play a crucial role in this field. Indeed, having a gravitational nuclear bomb, which can only be used by a combat aircraft that is known to be vulnerable and limited in range, is in no way comparable to having intercontinental ballistic missiles at change of environment implemented on board nuclear submarines launchers of the latest generation, which we know is almost impossible to spot or track.

In this context, the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear arsenal, while it is by no means negligible, is nevertheless not comparable to that posed by the 5 member countries of the United Nations Security Council, which are also the only ones to have very long range SSBNs and SLBMs. It is estimated today that Pyongyang has around XNUMX nuclear warheads, divided between its long-range missiles and its bombardment force. However, until now, everything led to believe that North Korea did not have the know-how and technological skills to sufficiently miniaturize its nuclear warheads, and thus come to arm its medium or short-range ballistic missiles, or its cruise. But photos published by the North Korean state press today cast doubt on these certainties (in main illustration)

The background illustration shows various models of missiles and how the miniaturized nuclear warhead can be installed on them.

Indeed, these show the leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what is presented as a new generation nuclear warhead. The device shown could indeed contain a fission weapon, but its most interesting characteristics are none other than its dimensions. Indeed, according to the photos, we can estimate that the device shown has a length between 90cm and 1 meter, for a diameter of the order of 50 cm, i.e. dimensions small enough to take place on board ballistic missiles more compact than the very large North Korean ICBMs, and therefore relatively easy to track by satellite. As such, in the background behind the North Korean president, an illustration shows the installation of this miniaturized head on board different types of missiles, including a cap that resembles the KN-25 tactical ballistic missile, that of the ballistic missile medium-range Hwasong-7 as well as that of the medium-changing ballistic missile Pukguksong-3.

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