A conversation with MIT’s Jim Walsh about the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and how the biggest dangers aren’t what we think

By Robert K. Elder, Outrider

Although delayed by the Covid pandemic, North Korea is poised to start testing its nuclear weapons program, says Jim Walsh, a senior research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program.

north korean leader

“Most analysts who work on North Korea’s nuclear program expect a test, as a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,” Walsh says.

North Korea is one of nine known nations with nuclear weapons and the newest to acquire the bomb, which the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has used to threaten and intimidate political adversaries.

Walsh spoke with Outrider about the state and future of North Korea’s nuclear program—and what that means for world politics.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Outrider: Why do you think another North Korean nuclear test is imminent?

Jim Walsh: North Korea has tested nuclear weapons six times in the past. I expect a North Korean nuclear test sometime over the next six months, and as early as September, I am in good company on that one. We have been expecting a test for a while, and there has been the occasional false start.

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