One former minster said it underscored the importance of Britain renewing its Trident nuclear deterrent.The stark warning follows yet another missile launch over Japan by the rogue state, just one day after dictator Kim Jong-un threatened to “sink Japan” – his first direct threat against his Pacific neighbor.
A parliamentary defense select committee heard from key experts on North Korea’s capabilities, intentions and what scope the International community had to find a peaceful resolution to the escalating crisis.
When asked whether the secretive regime yet possessed the capability of placing a nuclear warhead on a long-range ballistic missile Andrea Berger, of the James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, said: “I think we have to assume they have that capability now.”
The panel of experts agreed that North Korea already has the capability to strike the Continental Unites States. This echoed US Pentagon officials in July that North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile could hit Los Angeles, Denver or even Chicago.Asked in London was in range, Ms Berger replied: “If they can reach the East coast of the US, then yes.”
The distance from Pyongyang to Los Angeles is 5,945 miles while to Chicago it’s 6,461 miles. In comparison, the distance to London is only 5,389 miles.
However she added that North Korea had expressed “no intent” against the United Kingdom.
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, of the Chatham House think tank, told the committee that the speed of North Korea’s missile and nuclear development, coupled with Kim Jong-un’s unpredictable nature and the knock-on effects to regional stability means that “We are in a situation of maximum danger. This is the most dangerous time for many years.”He said that the regime can already produce around 6 kg of nuclear materials a year, adding: “Current estimates suggest they possess 30 nuclear devices. By 2030 we expect them to add an additional 20, giving them as many as 60.
“We need to be every concerned.”
In the case of military action, he said it would “inconceivable that the United Kingdom would remain on the sidelines” should the US decided to launch military action.
He said further pressure would come from Japan, with whom the UK strengthened defense ties in January.