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Nuclear Concerns Have Sacramento Man In Spotlight

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Sacramento man is getting lots of questions about North Korea's nuclear weapons threat.

Philip Coyle is a former U.S. weapons tester who retired in Sacramento. Coyle was in charge of the last U.S. nuclear test recorded in 1971.

He's suddenly been getting lots of calls.

"It actually started right after the election," Coyle said. "Forget about the inauguration. For example, a public television crew from the Netherlands was here earlier today."

Inside his imposing library, are books full of public Pentagon reports.

The increased calls coming into Coyle's Sacramento home now stem from world-wide concern that President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's rhetoric could lead to nuclear war.

Coyle believes there is no imminent threat.

"North Korea is not suicidal," Coyle said.

Coyle's career included serving in the Department of Defense under four presidents—Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Clinton. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense under Clinton and Bush.

And Coyle ran the U.S.'s largest and last nuclear detonation test in 1971. The blast had the impact of 5 million tons of TNT exploding.

"You just don't get a feel for the scale," Coyle said. "It's just so huge."

Now, no country in the world is testing nuclear weapons, except for North Korea.

President Trump has said a major conflict with North Korea is possible. The president has also called for diplomacy.

"I think one of the things that's been good about President Trump is that he'd be willing to speak to our worst enemies," Coyle said. "If it will make the problem go away."

Coyle says North Korea likely has less than ten nuclear warheads, and there are 15,000 in the world.

He says his greatest concern is the security of those 15,000, and making sure none are stolen by groups who could launch them with no government involvement.

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