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Report: North Korea believed to have up to 60 nuclear warheads

An intercontinental ballistic missile is launched in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service)
November 12, 2020

North Korea may have almost 60 nuclear warheads capable of impacting regional stability in East Asia, according to a recent estimate by the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) released Wednesday.

Yonhap News Agency reported that the INSS’ Strategic Assessment 2020 report found North Korea has between 15 and 60 nuclear warheads, as well as roughly 650 ballistic missiles that are able to threaten South Korean cities, Japan and eastern China.

“Through the development of weapons of mass destruction, use of chemical weapons, and aggressive posturing of its conventional forces, the DPRK threatens regional stability and global norms,” the report stated.

“It has also tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be capable of striking the United States,” the report added.

The report also showed around 1.2 million North Korean soldiers are “forward-deployed toward the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in an offensive posture, an overwhelming number that continues to pose an established threat to South Korea and Japan.

The DMZ is a piece of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a barrier between the North and South. Established under the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953, the DMZ was part of a contract to stop all conflicts of the Korean War.

North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang has reportedly engaged with Iran in the sales and transfer of military technology, assisting the Middle East nation advance its ballistic missile programs.

“Currency counterfeiting and narcotics trafficking have helped the regime generate funds and offset the effects of sanctions,” it said.

Additionally, the report found roughly US$1.25 million to $250 million in counterfeit U.S. currency has been circulated by Pyongyang, adding that there is “a high degree of uncertainty regarding the value of this activity.”

North Korea functions “more as a quasi-criminal enterprise than a legitimate nation-state,” the report stated.

Pyongyang showed off a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in early October which they claimed is capable of striking the entire continental United States. The ICBM was featured by the Korean People’s Army during a military parade honoring the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s Workers’ Party.

The Institute for National Strategic Studies is the primary research entity of the United States National Defense University and is funded by the Department of Defense.