The assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of the unhinged North Korean despot Kim Jong-un, adds a dangerous dimension to deepening concerns about a seriously deranged regime in Pyongyang that is increasingly fanatical, fragile and has nuclear weapons. As our contributing national security editor Alan Dupont makes clear in Inquirer today, the gravity of the threat posed by the rogue nation escalates as it advances rapidly towards building ballistic missiles that could potentially reach mainland US and all of mainland Australia.

Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, Dupont says, “is one of the world’s most dangerous and intractable security issues”. He adds there can be no surprise the Obama administration listed the North Korean nuclear issue as the No 1 national security problem facing America and the world when it briefed Donald Trump. Dupont notes Chinese and US estimates North Korea already has a destructive arsenal of 40 nuclear warheads. This is likely to increase to around 100 within four years — a number comparable to those of India, Pakistan and Israel. The difference between those countries and North Korea is, however, that while they are all democracies with relatively sane and sensible governments, Pyongyang, as the assassination of Kim Jong-nam shows, is in the hands of an inherently unstable and vulnerable regime whose actions are entirely unpredictable.

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