North Korea Has Achieved Nuclear Warheads, Japan Claims

In what could potentially become a monumental roadblock in US-North Korea nuclear talks, despite all recent good-will expressed between Kim and Trump through exchange of "beautiful" letters, a major annual Japanese defense review seen by Japan's Yomiuri newspaper will say for the first time that Pyongyang likely already possesses warheads in the form of miniaturized nuclear weapons.

“It seems that miniaturization and warheads have already been realized,” Japan’s annual defense white paper — set to be approved in by mid-September — will say based on a draft copy seen by Yomiuriamong the country's largest national newspapers (according a rush translation of the breaking story) . 

2016 photo from NK state media purporting to show Kim Jong-Un in front of a 'miniaturized' nuclear warhead, via BBC.

While the previous year’s white paper also indicated it was possible that North Korea had achieved miniaturization of nuclear warheads, this year's apparently will say it more definitively as a likely achieved fact.

And like prior years, the annual review lists North Korea ’s military technological development as remaining a “serious and imminent threat”.

It must be remembered that starting years ago, North Korea began publishing images of purported 'miniaturized' nukes, though little could be confirmed at the time.

BBC, for example, had reported in 2016:

Kim Jong-un says North Korean scientists have developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.

State media published images showing the North's leader standing next to what it said was a miniaturised weapon.

The claim is impossible to verify from the images alone and experts have long cast doubt on such assertions.

Also notable is that US ally South Korea will be demoted in rank among a list of countries seen as cooperative with Tokyo on defense, which further comes amid a bilateral trade spat. 

Concerning Japan's more powerful neighbor China, the white paper is expected to denote "further expansion of Chinese military operations by sea and air forces in the Pacific Ocean," according to Yomiuri.