SEOUL – South Korea says North Korea is estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament on Monday that the estimates on the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal range from 20 bombs to as many as 60, Japan Times.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament Monday the estimates on the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal range from 20 bombs to as many as 60. He was responding to a question by a lawmaker, saying the information came from the intelligence authorities. The National Intelligence Service, South Korea’s main spy agency, couldn’t immediately comment.
His comment Monday was the first time a senior Seoul official publicly talked about the size of the North’s secretive weapons arsenal.
Cho may have unintentionally revealed the information. His ministry said Tuesday Cho’s comments didn’t mean that South Korea would accept North Korea as a nuclear state, suggesting Seoul’s diplomatic efforts to rid the North of its nuclear program would continue.
According to South Korean government reports, North is believed to have produced 110 pounds of weaponized plutonium. North Korea is estimated to have a highly enriched uranium inventory of 550 to 1,100 pounds, sufficient for 25 to 30 nuclear devices.
It is unclear at this time how the United States and it’s allies will respond to the latest intelligence report, it is clear that North Korea not only lied to president Trump but that they also have continued their nuclear arsenal.
Officials said South Korea has quietly backed the North Korean position, betting that when Mr. Trump issued the “peace declaration” it would be harder for him to later threaten military action if the North fails to disarm or discard its nuclear arsenal.
Are we now facing a unified Korea?
“North Korea is continuing to expand its facilities to produce nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “We have never had a deal. The North Koreans never offered to give up their nuclear weapons. Never. Not once.”
James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, added, “If they were serious about unilaterally disarming, of course they would have stopped work at Yongbyon. There is a huge gulf between what the administration apparently thinks North Korea is going to do and what they intend to do, and that’s exceptionally dangerous.”
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.