A US military report has claimed that North Korea has up to 60 nuclear bombs and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons.
In the report, entitled ‘North Korean tactics’, which was published last month, the US Army said it was unlikely the country would ever give up its stockpile, adding it uses them as a deterrent to countries seeking regime change.
‘Estimates for North Korean nuclear weapons range from 20-60 bombs, with the capability to produce 6 new devices each year,’ the report states, adding that other estimates suggest they could obtain up to 100 nuclear bombs by the end of 2020.
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a ruling party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea last Thursday
‘North Korea sought nuclear weapons because its leaders thought the threat of a nuclear attack would prevent other countries from contemplating a regime change,’ according to the report.
The US army predicts the regime possesses the third-largest haul of chemical agents, globally, which it estimates at between 2,500-5,000 tons. The army believes that in a conflict situation, it’s ‘highly likely’ that North Korea would use chemical artillery shells, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The US is also concerned that Kim Jong Un’s regime may have weaponised anthrax or smallpox, noting that if affixed to a missile and launched at Seoul, just one kilogram (2.2lb) of anthrax could kill 50,000 people.
The report also adds that North Korea has developed it cyber warfare abilities, managing over 6,000 hackers, many of whom are based overseas.
‘North Korea can successfully conduct invasive computer warfare activities from the safety of its own territory,’ the report said.
The US is also concerned that Kim Jong Un’s regime may have weaponised anthrax or smallpox, noting that if affixed to a missile and launched at Seoul, just one kilogram (2.2lb) of anthrax could kill 50,000 people. (File photo of a North Korean missile launch)
‘It has the distributed ability to reach targeted computers anywhere in the world, as long as they are connected to the Internet.’
A leaked UN report earlier this month warned that North Korea has probably developed nuclear warheads small enough to be fitted on to its ballistic missiles.
Security services from several countries warned the UN Security Council in early August that the Hermit Kingdom has likely overcome the technical hurdle, one of the key steps in developing a viable long-range nuclear weapon.
The countries, which were not named in the report, said North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear capabilities – despite a hiatus in testing that was agreed by Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in now-stalled nuclear talks.
North Korea has not tested a nuclear device or long-range missile since 2017, when it declared it had completed its race for ‘The Bomb’ – despite international skepticism.
That year, Kim oversaw the launch of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of ranging the entirety of the mainland United States.
The North is also thought to have tested a thermonuclear bomb at its underground testing site, that was so powerful it caused the mountain above to partially collapse.
Experts warned at the time that Kim only needed to miniaturise the bomb so it could be fitted to the missile, and then develop technology to land it precisely on a target in order to have a weapon capable of threatening the US.
The interim report, seen by Reuters, was submitted to the 15-member UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee.
‘The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing its nuclear program, including the production of highly enriched uranium and construction of an experimental light water reactor,’ the report said.
‘A Member State assessed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is continuing production of nuclear weapons.’