North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test since September 2017. That was because US President Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June 2018 to evolve a solution to the problems related to nuclear activities in the Korean peninsula. He wanted to prevail upon the leader of North Korea to abandon his nuclear ambitions.

However, the hermit kingdom has not shelved its programs, and a confidential UN report suggests the country continues to pursue them. There are doubts that it has gone in for miniaturization and developed devices small enough to install warheads of missiles.

In the opinion of experts, the regime of Kim Jong-un conducted six nuclear tests, and with that experience it has "probably developed miniaturised nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles."

Incidentally, experts have warned in the past that Kim's regime has miniaturized nuclear warheads. The present report was by an independent panel that was monitoring UN sanctions. There were multiple countries involved in the study, but their identities are not disclosed.

The Guardian quotes the report that says: "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear program, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor." The report states that a member state assessed the DPRK had not abandoned the production of nuclear weapons.

There was no immediate response from North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York on the subject.

UN sanctions ignored by North Korea

The UN had imposed sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Guardian adds that despite these sanctions, the country continues to carry on its nuclear programs.

In 2017, an assessment by the US intelligence suggested that the regime of Kim Jong-un had developed the technology to produce miniature nuclear warheads. When installed in the missiles, these would give them capabilities to strike long-distance targets like the US mainland. Later, in 2019, the government of Japan arrived at a similar conclusion.

The leader of North Korea assures an end to war

Last week, Kim Jong-un assured that there would be no more war. This is because of nuclear weapons that his country has in its inventory. Kim Jong-un has reshuffled the security setup in North Korea. The arsenal it has would guarantee the safety of the country against external pressure and military threats.

The Guardian makes mention of the three meetings Kim had with Donald Trump. The world welcomed the first meeting and hailed it as the tentative first step. However, the next meeting in Hanoi failed before it started because of conflicting interests.

In spite of the meetings, the problem remains. It is a tug of war between denuclearization and sanctions. America wants the former, while North Korea wants an end to sanctions. It was a stalemate in the denuclearization of North Korea, and it meant America would have to revise its strategy. To show its sincerity, Pyongyang agreed to blow up tunnels at its main nuclear test site, Punggye-ri. However, experts feel it is an eyewash because it is possible to repair the damage quickly.

Sanctions not a deterrent for North Korea

According to Sky News, the regime of Kim Jong-un carries on its nuclear programs despite sanctions. It has probably tapped into alternate sources of generating finance. The UN report reveals that even though sanctions have affected the economy of North Korea, it is resorting to unethical means to generate money. A few possibilities are "illicit maritime exports of coal" and hacking. It is estimated to have siphoned off $2 bn through cyber-attacks that targeted banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.