Japan's defense minister says North Korea has sufficient capabilities to be recognized as a nuclear power.
During an appearance on an NHK TV program on Sunday, Itsunori Onodera said the North's 6th nuclear test on September 3rd may have been of a hydrogen bomb with an estimated explosive yield of 160 kilotons of TNT. He said that would prove the country's technology is steadily improving.
He called the North's current capability a major threat, and said what it wants to acquire next is an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Onodera said that if the North's ultimate goal is to make a nuclear warhead that can reach the mainland United States, its next step could be a test launch of an ICBM.
He said Japan's Self-Defense Forces have been on the alert around the clock, as the missile is likely to be launched over Japan.
He commented on the possibility of military action by the United States, saying US President Donald Trump has not ruled out ultimate military action. Onodera added that he thinks the United States will share information with Japan and South Korea.
He said he will carefully study how Japan should deal with the option the United States chooses.