Kim Jong-un’s Next Nuclear Weapons Test Might Be His Last, Says High-Ranking Defector

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea is suspected to be building a nuclear bomb larger and more dangerous than anything it has ever tested.

Commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site shows extensive tunneling for a test of a nuclear weapon with high explosive yields, reports 38 North, a research site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. While there is the possibility North Korea is simply taking extra safety precautions for future tests, the North could also be preparing to test a nuclear bomb with yields up to 282 kilotons.

North Korea’s last nuclear test had an explosive yield of only 20-30 kilotons.

“The nuclear test which the North is trying to conduct at the Punggye-ri test site will break the country into two pieces,” Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected last year, explained to Voice of America.

He said that the radiation from a massive nuclear test would bring about an “apocalypse.”

Thae also suggested that the possible destruction from such a test could topple the current regime by cutting Pyongyang’s connections to the outer regions, thus weakening the regime’s control over them.

“All northward roads and railways pass by Punggye-ri. If a massive explosion pollutes the area, and subsequently Pyongyang loses its control over the border areas of North Hamkyong Province, a massive defection will take place there,” Thae remarked, noting that a failed test could bring down Kim Jong-un and his reign of terror.

Thae Yong-ho explained that North Korea “will never give up nuclear weapons” and is likely to experiment with bigger tests; however, he argues that North Korea is too small for such tests.

North Korea announced Monday that it is unwilling to even discuss the possibility of de-nuclearization.

“If the purpose is making us give up our nuclear program, North Korea is not interested in any kind of dialogue,” Ambassador Kim In-ryong, North Korea’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said.

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