North Korea is up to more of its usual behavior, as the country led by Kim Jong Un again threatened The United States and its allies with the use of nuclear weapons in the event that they pursue “reckless hostile policy” toward the hermit kingdom.
The Korean Central News Agency issued a statement on Tuesday claiming that North Korea is improving its arsenal of nuclear weapons in both quality and quantity.
The Director of the North Korean Atomic Energy Institute said, “If the U.S. and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time."
Yongbyon is the location of North Korea’s main nuclear complex, and it contains a uranium enrichment plant and a plutonium reactor. Even with nuclear material there are still doubts as to whether or not North Korea has the technological capabilities in order to reach the mainland of the United States.
North Korea said last Monday that it was going to conduct more satellite launches, possibly for the purpose of testing ballistic missile technology. The country did not indicate the date of the next launch, but it is likely that it could occur in October.
The atomic energy official of North Korea has claimed that its nuclear weapons program is a measure of self-defense.
United States Ambassador or South Korea Mark Lippert said that America is working with South Korea to protect allies in the region and the United States homeland from North Korean threats.
Lippert stated, "We've moved, over time, a good deal of missile defense capability to the region. Ground-based interceptors to Alaska, surface combatants to the Western Pacific, a THAAD (missile defense system) battery on Guam, another radar in Japan in order to be ready and vigilant for anything the North Koreans may or may not do."
As tensions continue to mount between North Korea and the United States, it is not shocking that North Korea is making a strong effort to expand its nuclear testing at its Yongbyon facility. The country announced in 2013 that it would readjust and resume its program at the site.
However, some observers have challenged whether or not the reactor at the site is operating at its maximum potential. Satellite images from the site suggested that the reactor may have been shut down or functioning at low levels of power.
Former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright says that North Korea may possess between 10 and 15 nuclear weapons. In February, Albright predicted that the country could potentially increase its nuclear stockpile to somewhere between 20 and 100 by the year 2020.
The United States has demanded that North Korea shut down its nuclear programs as a condition of future negotiations between the two nations. However, Kim Jong Un has refused on multiple occasions citing the desire to be acknowledged as a world nuclear powerhouse.