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Soldiers in tanks move through Kim Il Sung square during a military parade, Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Now That North Korea Has Nukes, What Will It Do With Them?

Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017

North Korea’s successful nuclear test this weekend caps off a startling progression over the past 11 years from buffoonish nuclear aspirant to serious nuclear threat. Combined with successful intercontinental ballistic missile launches over the past year, the latest test effectively pushed Pyongyang over the threshold of being able to credibly target the continental U.S. with a nuclear attack.

For North Korea watchers and nonproliferation experts, the development was neither shocking nor surprising. It is Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, each building steadily toward the stated goal of a thermonuclear device. It follows a series of successful long-range missile tests that demonstrated North Korea’s successful pursuit of an ICBM. Whether the latest nuclear test was a thermonuclear or advanced nuclear weapon is still unclear, but that is in many ways irrelevant. The weapon’s yield was sufficient to make up for any shortcomings in the accuracy of North Korea’s missile guidance systems in the event it is used against a U.S. city. ...

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