SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un says his scientists have successfully miniaturised thermo-nuclear warheads to place on a ballistic missile and create a "true" deterrent, state media said on Wednesday.
Kim also stressed that the warheads were "thermo-nuclear" devices, echoing the North's claim that the fourth nuclear test it conducted in January was of a more powerful hydrogen bomb.
"The nuclear warheads have been standardised to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturising them," Kim noted during a visit with nuclear technicians, the North's official KCNA news agency said.
"This can be called a true nuclear deterrent," Kim was quoted as saying.
"Enough time has passed with North Korea's nuclear programme to make it distinctly possible it has miniaturised a device that can fit on a ballistic missile," said Melissa Hanham, an expert on North Korea's WMD programme at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
"I don't know that they could target that missile very well, or what it's range might be, but the claim cannot be dismissed as bluster," Hanham said.
Kim's comments came a day after the North's powerful National Defence Commission threatened pre-emptive nuclear attacks on South Korea and the US mainland, as Seoul and Washington kicked off large-scale joint military exercises. — AFP