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Koreas holds preparatory talks to set up Kim-Moon summit

07 April 2018

North Korea will nearly certainly develop ballistic missiles capable of reaching Britain within six to 18 months, MPs have warned. Officials in Seoul have said the summit, which is to take place in Panmunjom, will focus on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, although Pyongyang has not confirmed this through its state-run media.

Here's North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at what was said to be a missile test last May.

Worrisome thinking by a cross-party group of MPs working as a Defence Committee has warned that we could be in range of a nuclear strike by North Korea within 18 months, although they think we'll probably be OK as the regime doesn't deem us much of a threat.

The report, entitled Rash or Rational?: North Korea and The Threat It Poses, argues that the country has significantly stepped up its nuclear testing over the past 24 months.

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Pyongyang also staged 10 missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test so far since the latest South Korean president took office in May. Earl Howe, a British defence minister told the committee the North would be ready to carry out a nuclear strike in "six to 18 months".

"In any case, it is nearly certain to be able to do so within the next six to 18 months if it continues its programme at the current rate of development".

The image shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who are set to hold their first bilateral summit at the joint security area of Panmunjom, inside the Demilitarized Zone, on April 27, 2018.

The report also suggested North Korea could be "dissuaded" from using nuclear weapons - adding the leader was "ruthless... but rational".

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However, they warned that despite the recent diplomatic thaw, North Korea is unlikely to abandon its weapon programme.

If there were a conflict in the region, the United Kingdom would have no legal obligation to provide military assistance but it is unlikely it would stand aside in the event of North Korean aggression, the report said. "Yet, in the event of North Korean aggression against South Korea and/or against the United States, it is unlikely we would stand aside", they wrote.

North Korea could launch a full-blown nuclear strike on the U.S. as early as July 23, according to a prediction from Britain's Ministry of Defense.

The select committee report also covers the cyber threat posed by North Korea - which was blamed for the WannaCry ransomware attack which struck computers at NHS trusts past year.

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Koreas holds preparatory talks to set up Kim-Moon summit