North Korea 'has deployed multiple nuclear warheads' ahead of launch
North Korea has developed and deployed multiple nuclear warheads that can be attached to medium-range Rodong missiles, according to a Seoul-based defence analyst.
By Our Foreign Staff
Last Updated: 12:35AM BST 02 Apr 2009
"I received the information from the national intelligence agency of a certain country that they believe North Korea has deployed nuclear warheads at two underground facilities for Rodong missiles," Daniel Pinkston, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, told The Daily Telegraph from Seoul.
"We estimate that North Korea has as many as 320 Rodong missiles, which can be launched from mobile transporters anywhere in the country, and we are assessing the threat these pose," he said.
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North Korea's deployment of nuclear weapons will heighten tensions in the region, already strained due to Pyongyang's determination to go ahead with the launch of what it claims is a rocket carrying an experimental satellite.
Tokyo, Washington and other countries in the region believe the projectile is a long-range missile.
The launch is scheduled to take place between April 4 and 8.
The intelligence reports suggest that the warheads are made from plutonium extracted at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, which North Korea has promised to dismantle in return for fuel assistance but has been stalling on completing.
The regime in Pyongyang has also threatened to halt the dismantling of its nuclear programme if another country interferes in the launch of its satellite or the United Nations imposes sanctions on it.
Rodong missiles have an estimated range of 1,300km, putting Japan within range of the two missile bases that have been identified in North Korea.
Satellite surveillance images have shown a three-stage rocket on a launch pad at the Musudan-ri facility close to the east coast of North Korea and experts estimate that it would take two days for technicians to assemble a Rodong weapon and attach a nuclear warhead.