RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – Look out, Lady Gaga! Kim Jong-un’s poker face may be harder to read than your own. As debates over the actual extent of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities continue, Kim Jong-un asserts that his regime has advanced their nuclear weapons technology. The North Korean government has even provided pictures of their latest test to prove the newest nuclear missiles work. But consensus on the veracity of these claims remains as elusive as ever.

The North Korean government claims they’re not only able to miniaturize nuclear warheads, but also launch nuclear devices from submarines. Due to the country’s belligerent rhetoric, which often includes threats to use their nuclear arsenal to attack the United States, such claims are alarming. But as is usually the case, North Korea’s isolation and secrecy make it difficult to determine the truth.

While some believe the government’s assertions, others doubt them. Those who are highly skeptical of the claims point to pictures of the test provided by the Hermit Kingdom’s state-run media to support their arguments. They believe that these photos have been edited, and therefore the successful missile tests are nothing more than hoaxes.

Whether or not the North is bluffing, one thing is certain: The only actor who knows the true capabilities of the North Korean nuclear arsenal is the North Korean government itself. This allows them to use the international community’s lack of knowledge about the capabilities of their nuclear arsenal to maintain the status quo in the region. This can only continue to preserve the interests of the North Korean government and its supporters.