On Thursday evening, multiple news sources in the United States reported that the Defence Intelligence Agency has told Congress it believes, with “moderate confidence,” that North Korea has developed the capability to deploy a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile. This is a stark change from earlier assessments, and an extremely dangerous development.
North Korea, of course, has been known to possess functional atomic weapons for years. It tested its first bomb in 2006, and has set off two more since then. These bombs have been low-yield devices, not even as powerful as the American bomb dropped on Hiroshima, a bomb that was soon dwarfed by Cold War-era super bombs. But a small nuclear weapon is still massively more powerful than anything conventional, and, of course, has dangerous and unpredictable secondary effects in the form of dispersed radioactive fallout.
The West, and North Korea’s neighbours in South Korea and Japan, however, have…
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