Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Japan says North Korea may have missiles equipped with sarin gas

Japan says North Korea may have missiles equipped with sarin gas

North Korea may have the capacity to launch a warhead loaded with sarin nerve gas, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday (April 13), as tensions rise over the country's missile and nuclear programmes.

Mr Abe was responding to a question about Japan's readiness at a time of increased regional tension.

North Korea marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung on Saturday, North Korea's biggest national day called "Day of the Sun".

Mr. Abe's remarks were made to highlight Japan's vulnerability to North Korean attack rather than to reveal new intelligence, a spokesman for him said.

While North Korea's nuclear weapons program receives the most attention, the North's chemical weapons program is also a serious threat to consider.

Worldwide tensions have been mounting after analysts said the rogue regime was preparing a nuclear test site ahead of a key anniversary on Saturday - occasions when North Korea has been known to test its military hardware. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses estimates that North Korea possesses around 25 chemical agents, including six potent nerve agents, such as VX and sarin.

But recently, Mr Abe's ruling party has proposed that Japan should bolster its missile defence, including upgrading the capability to shoot down an enemy missile and acquiring the capacity to attack the base it was sacked from.

"The security situation around our country is getting increasingly severe", Mr Abe said as he addressed the Japanese parliament's diplomacy and defence committee.

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