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NK’s latest missiles large enough to carry nuclear device

North Korea fires a pair of ballistic missiles similar to United States ballistic missile ATACMS on March 21, 2020. Washington-based website 38 North says the missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. (Yonhap)
North Korea fires a pair of ballistic missiles similar to United States ballistic missile ATACMS on March 21, 2020. Washington-based website 38 North says the missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. (Yonhap)

A pair of missiles North Korea fired Saturday had a payload capacity sufficient to carry nuclear warheads, Washington-based website 38 North said Wednesday.

The firings on March 21 marked Pyongyang’s third weapons test of the year, following rounds earlier in the month. The missiles launched were similar to Washington’s surface-to-surface, close-range Army Tactical Missile System used to support battlefield operations.

Thirty-Eight North said it suspected that the North Korean missiles’ payload compartment was 700-750 millimeters in diameter to fit the 600-millimeter nuclear weapon North Korea displayed in February 2017.

The site said the missiles could carry warheads weighing over 500 kilograms, but added it remained unclear whether Pyongyang intends to arm the missiles with nuclear warheads.

Also on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advised keeping pressure on North Korea to engage in the stalled denuclearization talks, following his teleconference with G-7 countries.

“The G-7 and all nations must remain united in calling on North Korea to return to negotiations and stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure over its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Pompeo told a press conference at the State Department.

The top US diplomat’s advice stood in sharp contrast to that from Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights, a day earlier, when she supported sanctions relief for North Korea.

The UN rights chief said Pyongyang lacks the resources to counter the novel coronavirus pandemic, and that the North Korean public is not responsible for the restrictions.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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