The Current

'Be very afraid of North Korea's continuing quest for nuclear weapons': analyst

Analysts are warning North Korea's continued nuke testing goes beyond basic posturing and is extremely dangerous for the region, and the world. The Current explores North Korea's nuclear weapons potential.
A North Korean live nuclear test could easily be mistaken for an act of war, says Melissa Hanhamm, a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. It is Pyongyang's fifth atomic test, the second in eight months. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)

Read story transcript

North Korea refuses to back away from its nuclear program, despite tougher and tougher sanctions and experts are warning the world should be concerned about the nuclear threat.

"We should continue to be very afraid of North Korea's continuing quest for nuclear weapons and refining and augmenting nuclear arsenal," says Heritage Foundation's senior research fellow Bruce Klingner.

He tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, North Korea already has a nuclear warhead for its No-Dong medium range ballistic missiles.

"South Korea and Japan are already under a nuclear threat."

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, says the world needs to be prepared for what might be next. She says there is proof North Korea is causing explosions by a nuclear device and tests have detected not only the seismic but radionuclide data.

"What we're not 100 per cent sure about is whether it is a compact weapon that could fit on the tip of a missile."

North Korea TV announcement on nuclear test

7 years ago
Duration 0:33
North Korea TV announcement on nuclear test

Hanham says North Korea is conducting these tests"for a political reason to serve some kind of need," and the diplomatic community needs to find out what the underlying need is.

North Korea expert Katy Oh says the implications on the citizens living in North Korea will continue the "perpetuation of the misery."

"We've got to be really serious about how we handle this nuclear rising rogue regime — not just a bad regime but basically threatening and killing and kidnapping and sabotaging their own people and putting them in fear," says Oh.

"We have to fundamentally think about, other than sanctions in wars and all these limited options, the strategic use of the information going into the country and let the people finally recognize that they have to rise up."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Sujata Berry and Karin Marley.