ST. PETERSBURG, FL — North Korea is called the hermit kingdom because it is so locked down.
The state controls the media. So what can you trust when you hear in the news North Korea is planning to test nukes...again?
10News political reporter Mark Rivera is taking your questions to the experts to Verify what's really going on.
I want to be upfront about our sources on this, so you can trust that what you're hearing is the real deal.
I went to the folks who released these pictures you've seen on nearly every news website today showing North Korea's nuclear testing facility getting ready for *another test.
The group is called 38 North...it's run out of Johns Hopkins University. Their whole job is to monitor what's happening in North Korea.
I talked to their managing editor and US Korea institute Assistant Director Jenny Town.
I also talked to Tom Karako - the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
These are the experts.
Now your questions...
Is nuclear testing really going on, and can north Korea put a nuke on a missile?
I can verify - YES. Nuclear testing IS going on in North Korea. But as for a nuclear missile, Jenny Town says Kim Jong-Un just isn't there yet.
“I mean, you do see ballistic missile testing. And this idea of that they're testing nuclear missiles is not true. As far as we know we've never seen a nuclear-tipped missile, so they're not testing nuclear-tipped missiles. They're testing their ballistic missiles basically to increase the reliability and accuracy,” Town said.
I sorted through hundreds of your comments on Facebook today about this topic. Hailey wanted to know if North Korea has a missile that could hit the U.S.
I can verify from both of our expert sources that no one has seen a missile like that yet... but North Korea has done everything it can to make one. What North Korea does have are missiles that can reach South Korea and japan two of our allies -- that would trigger a U.S. military response.
“Our interests are already under threat.” Town said.
So how about your last question: say North Korea does develop a missile that can reach our shores - on Facebook, Mike Bell asked me can we intercept those missiles?
Here's what Director of the Missile Defense Project Tom Karako said.
“Good news is that we have some ground-based missile defense is in California and Alaska. Not a lot, but we do have some, that are really especially tailored toward this particular threat. This particular threat, we've seen coming for the last 20 years.”
So to recap - I verified your questions: Yes, nuclear testing is set to be underway in North Korea.
No, we have not seen a rocket from North Korea that can reach the U.S. yet, that may change .
And yes, the U.S. has systems in the region and a missile defense system ready if they get a rocket that can make it to our shores.
Jenny Town, 38 North managing editor and U.S. Korea institute assistant director
Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
WEBSITE: 38 North