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North Korea appears to have achieved "significant" progress in the miniaturisation of a nuclear warhead onto a long-range missile that could reach the US, it has been warned - reported the SkyNews.
The possibility has long been talked about by observers and experts, but South Korea's defence ministry has for the first time released a technical analysis in its biennial white paper.
"North Korea's capabilities of miniaturising nuclear weapons appear to have reached a significant level," the paper says.
"North Korea is presumed to have secured some 40kg of weapons-grade plutonium by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel roads multiple times, and it is evaluated to have been working on the highly enriched uranium programme."
The paper has been published on the website of South Korea's defence ministry in Korea, and an English version will be available in May, according to Yonhap, the state news agency.
However, Pyongyang is yet to demonstrate the completion of the nuclear technology.
An anonymous South Korean official cited by Yonhap said that so far no hard evidence has emerged to prove the regime has put the nuclear warhead in service.
The evaluation in the white paper was based on North Korea's successful sending of a satellite into orbit on an Unha-3 long-range rocket in December 2012, and the fact that its Taepodong-2 long-range rocket is believed to have a range of 6,200 miles (10,000km).
North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests in the past seven years, and the latest one was reported by its state news agency, KCNA, in February 2013.
The two Koreas are technically still at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.