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North Korea Able to Launch Nuclear Warhead on Missile, US Military Official Warns, But Controlling it? Not So Much

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WASHINGTON — North Korea now has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon, a senior U.S. military official said Thursday, adding that while the U.S. believes Pyongyang can mount a warhead on a missile, it’s not clear that it can hit a target.

“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night, primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”

The official said it appears that North Korea can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, but may not have the re-entry capabilities for a strategic strike. That would include the ability of the weapon to get back through the atmosphere without burning up and the ability to hit the intended target. The official said North Korea continues to try and overcome those limitations.

The Pentagon continues to revise itscontingency plans regarding a North Korean strike, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. The military routinely develops plans for all threat possibilities.

“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night,” the official said, “primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”

U.S. officials have steadily expanded their assessments of Pyongyang’s nuclear abilities. Adm. William Gortney, then-head of U.S. Northern Command, said in March that Pyongyang may have figured out how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a long-range missile. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Japanese Professor Collects North Korean Everyday Objects

Professor Toshio Miyatsuka is one of Japan’s leading experts on North Korea. He has filled his office with mundane objects such as toys and packs of cigarettes, all from the Hermit Kingdom. Photo: Miho Inada/The Wall Street Journal

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[VIDEO] Most Corrupt Nation on Earth: 26 Surprising Facts About North Korea

North Korea is officially the most corrupt country in the World. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks every country in the world from 0 to 100, based on how corrupt it is, with a score of 0 being very corrupt and 100 meaning very clean. Every year North Korea ties with Somalia for last place. Let’s uncover the most disturbing facts about the World’s favourite hermit kingdom.

 


[VIDEO] Kim Jong Un’s High-Caliber Purge

South Korean intelligence reports executions of a number of high North Korean officials by supreme leader Kim Jong Un, using methods including antiaircraft fire. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan talks about what the recent purge could mean for the Hermit Kingdom.

 


The Most Secretive Place on Earth: Inside North Korea with Will Ripley

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

This is the oldest theater in Pyongyang built after the Korean war, a time of rapid growth for North Korea.

“I asked our government minders if they’d be willing to show us what life is really like for regular people in North Korea.”

Pyongyang (CNN) — Will Ripley: It is exceedingly rare for Western journalists to be allowed inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) — commonly known as North Korea. It is even less common for an American reporter to visit this reclusive nation, home to nearly 25 million people who are essentially isolated from the rest of the world.

“They said they’d ask their superiors and get back to us.”

Yet here I am, an American member of a CNN crew, reporting from Pyongyang about the latest high profile sporting event to sweep this city since a bizarre basketball tournament earlier this year.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Our hotel, the Yanggakdo, is on its own little island inside Pyongyang but still apart from it. Water separates us from everyone else.

Even though decades of isolation and crippling sanctions have left North Korea struggling economically and lagging far behind much of the developed world in terms of technology and infrastructure — the nation is nearly unrivaled in its ability to mobilize tens of thousands of citizens to put on a spectacular show.

You probably remember when American NBA star Dennis Rodman organized a basketball tournament in Pyongyang.

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Rodman was widely criticized in the United States for befriending the DPRK’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, whose authoritarian regime has been accused by a United Nations panel of widespread human rights abuses, charges that North Korea strongly denies.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1--15. We're told the most popular is 7.

Haircuts are chosen by number, here 1–15. We’re told the most popular is 7.

‘Sports diplomacy’

Outside press were not invited to cover Rodman’s trip. This time, CNN is among a handful of news organizations granted rare access to Pyongyang to cover the International Pro Wrestling Festival.

[Also see: Japan Lawmaker Kanji ‘Antonio’ Inoki Takes Sport Diplomacy to North Korea]

Don’t miss this Pundit Planet Exclusive: Mashup: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe sing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-Un]

Retired Japanese wrestling star turned politician Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is organizing the event. In his professional heyday, Inoki fought in a memorable and bizarre 1976 match in Tokyo with boxing great Muhammad Ali. Today, as an aging member of the Japanese parliament, he is once again in the headlines for his latest attempt at what he calls “sports diplomacy” between Japan and North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »