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Defense Minister Onodera says DPRK threat level has increased

In reference to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told the press on Sept.10 in Tokyo, “Given the fact that the explosive power of the latest detonation was 160 kilotons, 10 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, we now have to assume North Korea possesses nuclear weapons.” It is unusual for a senior government official to explicitly mention North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. Onodera expressed the view that the DPRK’s threat level has increased from the government’s previous view that “the nuclear program seems to be making significant progress,” as stated in the Defense of Japan annual white paper for 2017.


 “North Korea has not yet demonstrated that its long-range ballistic missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, can reach the U.S.,” the defense minister added. “We have to assume that the DPRK will eventually be able to achieve that goal.”

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