Gary Samore, a top Obama administration national security official, warned of new sanctions if North Korea conducted a third round of nuclear tests on Monday, as reports surfaced that North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads so they can be delivered by ballistic missile.
North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states, says Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former CIA nuclear weapons analyst and president of EMPact America, a citizens lobbying group.
Samore, who handles arms control and non-proliferation issues, warned that “additional strong sanctions will be imposed on the North with the support of Russia and China.”
North Korea’s nuclear tests have been dismissed as failures by some analysts because of their low explosive yield. But Dr. Pry believes they bore the “signature” of the Russian-designed “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting more gamma radiation than a 25-megaton nuclear weapon.
Pry believes the U.S. intelligence community was expecting North Korea to test a first generation implosion device with an explosive yield of 10 to 20 kilotons, similar to the bomb the U.S. exploded over Nagasaki in 1945. He said, “So when they saw one that put off just three kilotons, they said it failed. That is so implausible.”
The technology for producing a first generation implosion weapon has been around since 1945, and is thoroughly described in open source literature.
South Korean defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, told his country’s parliament on Monday that North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear weapons design, allowing them to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile.