North Korea may have as many as 100 nuclear weapons by 2020, according to research presented by experts from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. With this amount of tactical weapons, the East Asian country will be capable of launching nuclear attacks at its own disposal, the researchers concluded. North Korea is in possession of 10-16 nuclear weapons at present, according to estimates done by the Institute for Science and International Security. To demonstrate how massive the amount of nuclear stockpile may grow in the future, the experts lay down three scenarios.
The Worst-Case Scenario
First, if North Korea will only commit to minimal technological improvements, it can accumulate 20 more nuclear weapons by 2020. Second, if the country will have advances in miniaturization, it will be capable of accumulating the next generation of intermediate and shorter-range ballistic missiles. Third, if it hastens all developments of nuclear weapons, it can accumulate as much as 100 highly advanced nuclear armaments ready for deployment anytime. The third is a “worst-case scenario,” according to one of the report’s authors, Joel Wit. He said that the more nuclear armaments North Korea develops, the more difficult it will be for the international community to halt its nuclear program. After all, “it’s a risky business trying to punish a country with so many nuclear weapons,” Wit told Reuters. At present, North Korea is in possession of various missile systems that can reach South Korea and Japan, the research said. It will also be able to deploy Taepodong missiles that can reach the United States.
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US-South Korea War Game
Meanwhile, the yearly war games conducted by South Korea and the United States will commence next week. The military drill will involve testings of advanced military weapons North Korea has always been apprehensive about, said political observers. Nor Kor has always perceived the military exercises as rehearsals for attacks aimed at them – this in spite of South Korea and U.S. saying the drill is defensive in nature, experts say. “Each year, Pyongyang complains and demands a stop to these annual exercises, which it claims to be offensive in nature,” professor of Korean studies at Tufts University Sung-Yoon Lee told CNN. Philip Yun, executive director of the Ploughshares Fund, echoed the same observation. “The North Koreans, being paranoid in their own way, have always had this concern: ‘If there is going to be an invasion, this would be the time.’ But that’s not the intent on the U.S.-South Korean side,” Yun said.