South Korean President Lee Myung-bak believes North Korea could detonate multiple devices when it goes ahead with a nuclear test expected in the coming weeks or even days.
In an interview published yesterday in the Chosun Ilbo daily, the outgoing president also acknowledged the huge challenge the international community faces in seeking to wean Pyongyang off its nuclear weapons program.
The North has signaled that it will carry out a “higher level” nuclear test very soon, in a defiant response to UN sanctions imposed after its long-range rocket launch in December last year.
Lee said “higher-level” suggested Pyongyang might attempt to detonate several devices.
“North Korea is likely to carry out multiple nuclear tests at two places or more simultaneously” in order to maximize scientific gains from an event that will be globally condemned, Lee said.
Experts around the world are gearing up to analyze any test for what it might reveal about the current status of the North’s weaponization program. Of particular interest will be any sign that its scientists have succeeded in developing a warhead that can be fitted onto a missile.
“If the North produces miniaturized weapons that can be used as warheads on missiles, it would really pose a threat,” Lee said. “That’s why the whole world is watching it so intensively.”
In his interview, he suggested that diplomatic efforts would make little headway in bringing about a significant policy shift in Pyongyang.
“I think it is difficult to persuade the North regime to give up the nuclear path,” he said.
Some predict the test will come before the Lunar New Year on Monday, while others suggest it will be timed to coincide with the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s father and late leader Kim Jong-il on Feb. 16.
Meanwhile, the North has posted a video on YouTube depicting a US city resembling New York engulfed in flames after an apparent missile attack.
The footage was uploaded on Saturday by the North’s official Web site, Uriminzokkiri, which distributes news and propaganda from the state media.
The video is shot as a dream sequence, with a young man seeing himself on board a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit by the same type of rocket Pyongyang successfully tested in December last year.
As the shuttle circles the globe — to the tune of We Are the World — the video zooms in on countries below, including a joyfully re-unified Korea.
In contrast, the focus then switches to a city — shrouded in the US flag — under apparent missile attack with its skyscrapers, including what appears to be the Empire State Building, either on fire or in ruins.
“Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” runs the caption across the screen.
“It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself,” it added.
The video ends with the young man concluding that his dream will “surely come true.”