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What we know about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and their military power


What we know about North Korea’s nuclear weapons and their military power. After talks between the US and North Korea failed in 2019, Kim Jong-un has steadily been growing his military arsenal, but does the nation have any nuclear weapons?
.   By Robbie Purves, Birmingham Live, 5 JAN 2022  Kicking off their new year with a bang, North Korea has reportedly launched a ballistic missile, landing it in the East Sea, or Sea of Japan.

Fired from the land, it is suspected to be smaller than previous launches as an attempt to show military might, while avoiding large economic sanctions……..

Not only this, but they have an estimated 40 nuclear warheads. These can be carried by missiles that could reach, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York with ease.

Some military experts have warned they could possess technology to make them manoeuvrable mid-flight and therefore harder to detect.

North Korea blatantly violates UN Security Council resolutions regularly, but has highlighted hypocrisy.

Their neighbours, South Korea, launched a ballistic missiles from a submarine in September 2021, making it the first nation to do so without nuclear weapons.

The South’s president, Moon Jae-in, said the test was “Not a response to North Korea” but noted “the reinforcement of our missile capabilities can be a clear deterrent to North Korea’s provocations.”

South Korea, a long time ally of the US, has the capability to make a nuclear warhead, but has chosen not to do so.

Worryingly for peace in the region, the top People Power Party 2022 presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl, has stated he would demand the US redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in the South.

After talks between then President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un failed in 2019 despite much promise, tensions have steadily risen.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/world-news/what-know-north-koreas-nuclear-22653340

January 6, 2022 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No North Korea nuclear, ICBM tests for the time being


Unification minister predicts no North Korea nuclear, ICBM test ‘for time being’
South Korea’s Lee In-young also frames end-of-war declaration as starting point for denuclearization, NK news Jeongmin Kim November 17, 2021   North Korea is unlikely to test any nuclear weapons or long-range missiles in the immediate future, South Korea’s Minister of Unification Lee In-young said on Wednesday, as the country’s March 2022 presidential election fast approaches.

Speaking at an international symposium in Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, Lee also once again pitched the idea of formally ending the Korean War, an initiative that the Moon Jae-in administration continues to push in its last months in office.

“North Korea is testing short-range missiles [these days] but it appears that there is a high possibility that it won’t test nuclear weapons or long-range missiles — as known as ‘strategic provocation’ — for the time being,” Lee said, without providing further explanation.

North Korea last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in Nov. 2017, and its sixth and last nuclear test was in September that year. Leader Kim Jong Un announced a self-imposed moratorium on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) tests the following year, but he has made ambiguous remarks about whether to continue the test ban over the past two years.

Lee on Wednesday remained hopeful that inter-Korean relations will improve, alluding to “possibilities of step-by-step, simultaneous corresponding measures” by Washington should North Korea make progress in denuclearization steps……..

“Denuclearization and the completion of a peace regime [on the Korean Peninsula] will need a lot of time … but the end-of-war declaration could become a formal starting point for such a process,” he said.   https://www.nknews.org/2021/11/unification-minister-predicts-no-north-korea-nuclear-icbm-test-for-time-being/

November 18, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

N. Korea replaces, punishes 14 cadres and technicians working on nuclear-powered submarine programThe Central Committee criticized the technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production 


N. Korea replaces, punishes 14 cadres and technicians working on nuclear-powered submarine program

The Central Committee criticized the technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production   https://www.dailynk.com/english/north-korea-replaces-punishes-14-cadres-and-technicians-working-on-nuclear-powered-submarine-program/ By Jeong Tae Joo – 2021.11.15

North Korea recently replaced or punished 14 cadres and technicians tasked with designing small nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered submarines, apparently for failing to meet party criterion. The authorities will likely now face difficulties in their plan to acquire the capability of stealthily striking enemies.

According to multiple Daily NK sources in North Korea on Thursday, the Central Committee’s Military Industries Department began screening designs for nuclear-powered submarines on Nov. 5.

Work on the designs has been ongoing since October of last year.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said during the Eighth Party Congress in January that “new planning research for a nuclear-powered submarine has been completed and is to enter the final examination process.”

Nuclear-powered submarines are highly stealthy as they need not surface for long periods of time, making them the most likely weapon to survive an enemy’s preemptive strike.

Focusing on advancing the country’s arsenal of asymmetrical strategic weapons, North Korea has assigned its top researchers to the project.

In particular, the authorities reportedly put experts on the task of producing small nuclear reactors, the key to building the submarines, imploring them to “exercise their top abilities, given their rich experience built up over six nuclear tests.”

However, the Central Committee apparently criticized the screening report, which included analysis of design flaws.

Firstly, the Central Committee reportedly said it would “take 10 more years” to build nuclear-powered submarines according to current designs, even though the goal is to complete them by 2025.

The Central Committee also criticized the designs for failing to meet three criteria put forth by the party to achieve its goals.

Though party leadership had stressed 1) improving the capabilities of conventionally powered mini-submarines that are currently deployed, 2) building a new class of submarines capable of carrying North Korea’s existing SLBMs and 3) building nuclear-powered submarines capable of carrying several nuclear launch systems, the Central Committee reportedly judged that these criteria had not been met on the ground.

The Central Committee also criticized technicians for failing to follow party policy to “localize” production. That is to say, the committee took serious issue with designers handing over for final screening a complete comprehensive blueprint that called for large-scale imports of foreign technology and parts during the entire shipbuilding process.

Several basic errors were discovered as well, including a failure by designers to make the technical descriptions in the partial plans and assembly plans match when they drew the blueprints for the small nuclear reactors.

The Central Committee responded by excluding from the research team 14 cadres, researchers and technicians who took part in drawing up the plan. Six of them were kicked out of the party or disciplined.

One of the sources said the six who took responsibility for the failure were exiled with their families to remote areas. He added that the authorities now face snags in their plans, including the need to completely revise the designs for nuclear-powered submarines.

November 16, 2021 Posted by | employment, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

N. Korea accuses U.S. of acquiescing in nuclear proliferation with double standards

N. Korea accuses U.S. of acquiescing in nuclear proliferation with ‘double standardsAll News  October 31, 2021 SEOUL, (Yonhap) –– North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday accused the United States of “acquiescing” in nuclear proliferation around the world based on “double standards,” taking issue with the U.S.’ recent submarine deal with Australia and other policy moves.

The ministry made the accusations in an article, entitled “Is the U.S. really a guardian of the nuclear non-proliferation regime?,” claiming that the international community is paying attention to the U.S.’ “systematic” violation of the regime.

“The U.S. itself has ignored the principle of nuclear non-proliferation and allowed for double standards in line with their strategy for the domination of the world,” the ministry said in the writing.

The ministry stressed that the U.S. built and used nuclear arms for the first time in the world and took the first proliferation step by transferring technology for nuclear-powered submarines to Britain on the pretext of responding to threats from the then Soviet Union in the past.

The ministry also took note of the recent trilateral agreement among the U.S., Britain and Australia to equip Australia with “conventionally-armed” but nuclear-powered submarines. https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20211031004300325

November 1, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s ongoing nuclear missile tests prove it’s time to normalize relations

North Korea’s ongoing nuclear missile tests prove it’s time to normalize relations

Given the history of repeated dead-end disarmament talks, déjà vu begs the question whether it is time to cut bait and accept the unacceptable. NBC News
By Bennett Ramberg, Former policy analyst at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs

Pyongyang’s recent flurry of missile tests — most recently, a submarine-launched ballistic missile South Korea says North Korea launched Tuesday — and the apparent resumption of nuclear weapons materials production at the Yongbyon reactor are reminders that North Korea remains a central perennial problem befuddling U.S. foreign policy. Despite North Korea’s acknowledged shaky economy — further weakened by strong international economic sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic — leader Kim Jong Un’s commitment to maintaining the country’s bomb program remains unbowed.

The Biden administration’s ill-defined “calibrated approach” looks unlikely to move the nuclear-elimination needle. Nonetheless, Washington continues soldiering on — reaching out to China for help with its efforts to draw North Korea back into disarmament negotiations.

Given the history of these repeated dead-end disarmament talks, déjà vu begs the question whether it is time to cut bait: accept the unacceptable — nuclear North Korea is here to stay — and complement current U.S. military containment with an offer of diplomatic relations unconditioned by Pyongyang’s nuclear status.

History demonstrates that not only do such ties keep contacts on an even keel in normal times, they can play a critical role in resolving nuclear crisis.

This path would build on precedent. President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 opening of relations with China, for example, did not involve questioning Beijing’s nuclear program.

Today, blunting North Korea’s nuclear threat relies on deterrence and defense — embodied in the long-standing U.S.-South Korea alliance, bolstered by nearly 30,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South, an offshore nuclear umbrella and an emerging sea-based ballistic missile defense. What’s lacking is a durable diplomatic component.

With the exception of the United States and North Korea, all nuclear weapons states have diplomatic relations………  https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/north-korea-s-ongoing-nuclear-missile-tests-prove-it-s-ncna1282118

October 23, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Time to find more realistic options than complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program

Lessons From North Korea: Once You Go Nuclear, You Don’t Go Back, algemeiner, by Alon Levkowitz ,4 Oct 21, The Biden administration has accepted the fact that CVID — the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program — will not occur under the Kim Jong-un administration. The time has come to find other realistic options.

In a 2021 survey by the Korea Institute for National Unification on South Korean attitudes toward North Korea, a majority of South Koreans expressed the belief that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons. Does this mean the concept of CVID is no longer relevant? Are the South Korean people more realistic than leaders who assert that the North Korean regime will give up its nuclear weapons if it gets sufficient security assurances and economic benefits?

The Singapore Summit of June 12, 2018, between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un created euphoria on the US side that Kim had made the strategic decision to give up his nuclear weapons in exchange for a lifting of sanctions and subsequent improvement in the North Korean economy.

This euphoria was based on a misunderstanding between Washington and Pyongyang that was revealed a few months later at the Hanoi Summit on February 27-28, 2019. Did President Trump fail to convince Kim to give up North Korea’s nuclear program? Was it realistic to expect him to give up his leverage for economic benefits?  One can argue that Kim was never willing to fully dismantle the North Korean nuclear weapon program, but only to give up those parts of the tactical nuclear program that would be required to lift the sanctions without giving up strategic nuclear capabilities……..

The ongoing sanctions on North Korea have not led to any change in Kim’s nuclear and missile policy. Washington needs to understand that as long as Kim Jong-un is in power, the CVID is a declarative policy without any essence, because Kim will not give up the nuclear and missile card. He might be willing to give up some tactical elements to ease the sanctions, but he will never agree to CVID.

Dr. Alon Levkowitz, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is an expert on East Asian security, the Korean Peninsula, and Asian international organizations. https://www.algemeiner.com/2021/10/04/lessons-from-north-korea-once-you-go-nuclear-you-dont-go-back/

October 5, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

China supports North Korea’s call to revise sanctions, return to nuclear talks

China backs North Korean call to revise sanctions to revive nuclear talks   SCMP,  2 Oct 21,
Instead of empty slogans, US should restart UN resolutions and ‘revise sanctions related to humanitarian aspects’, Beijing says
Denuclearisation talks stalled in 2019 and Pyongyang has resumed its missile tests

China has backed North Korea’s calls for the US to revise its sanctions to break the stalemate in denuclearisation talks.

Pyongyang resumed its missile tests last month after a six-month lull, the latest being a new hypersonic missile fired on Tuesday. It first fired a

nuclear-capable cruise missile on September 12, then followed up with two railway-borne ballistic missiles days later – in breach of UN Security Council resolutions.

Although the Chinese foreign ministry has continued to urge restraint from all parties in response to Pyongyang, spokeswoman Hua Chunying also called for North Korea’s “justified and reasonable concerns” to be taken seriously and addressed.

“The US should not fall back on empty slogans calling for dialogue, but should demonstrate sincerity and come up with a realistic dialogue proposal, restart the reversible UN resolutions at the Security Council, and revise sanctions that are related to humanitarian aspects,” Hua said on Thursday………………  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3150921/china-backs-north-korean-call-revise-sanctions-revive-nuclear

October 2, 2021 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea returns to its missile diplomacy

Pushing the nuclear envelope’: North Korea’s missile diplomacy  Guardian, 

Analysis: Fear and uncertainty of the Obama years could return as Kim Jong-un revives nuclear ambitions    Reuters. Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Wed 22 Sep 2021

North Korea’s recent missile launches signal that the regime has reverted to familiar tactics to attract the attention of the US. Although the rest of the world will take little comfort from this return to “normality”, after a six-month pause Pyongyang last weekend launched what it claimed were new long-range cruise missiles capable of hitting Japan, followed hours later by the test launch of two ballistic missiles into the sea, apparently from a train.

Then came the clearest sign since its last nuclear test in 2017 that the North is not about to abandon its project to build a viable deterrent, with satellite images showing it was expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex……….. (registered readers only)  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/22/pushing-the-nuclear-envelope-north-koreas-missile-diplomacy

September 23, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea says Australia’s submarine deal could trigger ‘nuclear arms race

North Korea says Australia’s submarine deal could trigger ‘nuclear arms race’ WP,    By Rachel Pannett   20 Sep 21,  North Korea on Monday condemned a new defense pact by the United States, Australia and Britain, and a plan to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia, saying the deal could trigger a nuclear arms race and upset the balance in the Asia-Pacific region………Responding to news of the trilateral security pact on Monday, the unnamed North Korean ministry official described the United States as “the chief culprit toppling the international nuclear nonproliferation system,” adding that its “double-dealing attitude” was threatening “world peace and stability.”…….. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/20/north-korea-submarine-nuclear-aukus/

September 21, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç  https://theconversation.com/north-korea-nuclear-proliferation-and-why-the-madman-theory-is-wrong-about-kim-jong-un-167939, Colin Alexander, Lecturer in Political Communications, Nottingham Trent University 15 Sep 21,  The two missile tests conducted by North Korea in recent days have reopened discussions about the country, its leadership, its foreign policy, its perception around the world and the use (and usefulness) of nuclear weapons as an option within global politics.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency announced on September 12 that it had test-fired a new long-range cruise missile, believed by analysts to be the country’s first missile with the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.

Three days later the South Korean military said the North had launched “two unidentified ballistic missiles” into the Sea of Japan, prompting Japan’s outgoing prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to order his country’s defence agencies to investigate.

North Korea usually makes grand nuclear statements like the ones we have seen in recent days during early September to mark the founding of the DPRK on September 9 1948. As such, these tests are as much about domestic propaganda and internal regime prestige as they are about threat to the outside world.

More broadly though, North Korea’s advance of its nuclear weapons technology – off and on since the 1950s – has made its integration with the rest of the international community much less likely. This is primarily on account of its development coming at considerable cost and sacrifice to the small nation.

No moral high ground

It can be argued that, given the indiscriminate barbarity of the destruction that a nuclear attack would cause, no state has a moral right to nuclear weapons over that of another state. But countries which already have a nuclear arsenal will often push the line that while it’s OK for them to have a nuclear stockpile, other countries do not necessarily have that right. These communications often rely on a manufactured sense of who is responsible and stable-minded and who is irresponsible and unstable. In short, it is an attempt to create a polarised world of good and evil.

This simplistic polarisation is encouraged through government communications regarding foreign policy. But they also depend on wider more implicit perception management strategies. These include harnessing the agendas of global mainstream news media and exporting popular culture products, films, television programmes and the like, that seek to encourage certain worldviews and to marginalise ones that are undesirable to the world’s most powerful nations.


It should always be remembered that the United States is the only state to have used nuclear weapons as an act of war (twice during 1945). Yet it declares North Korea to be a nuclear threat based on its “madness” (Donald Trump repeatedly called Kim Jong-un “mad”). But if we are to believe revelations from the upcoming book Peril by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, America’s top military personnel had to take action in the final months of the Trump administration to limit any risks of a nuclear showdown with China.

It’s probably true to say that few aspiring candidates for high office are going to say that they would never use their country’s nuclear capability in any circumstance. But it could also be said that any head of government who boasts of their readiness to use nuclear weapons is demonstrating their lack of fitness to govern. But, as the first part of this paragraph suggests, no candidate is likely to make this assertion.

Madman’ theory wrong

There is no evidence that the previous leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-sung or Kim Jong-il, were assessed by psychologists and found to be suffering from mental ill health. This is also true of Kim Jong-un, the country’s current leader – in fact before Kim’s summit with Trump in 2018, a former State Department psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva, who creates psychological profiles of foreign leaders, told America’s National Public Radio that: “I think the madman theory was wrong.”

I would say he’s smart, that he’s a very, very savvy diplomat, a leader with a sense of gravitas. He wants to be a player on the world stage.

For Simon Cross, a colleague of mine at Nottingham Trent University, “madness” is an imprecise term and a cultural construct that does not require a trained medical professional to identify it, but it resonates with ease with audiences when uttered by someone they trust. Stephen Harper at the University of Portsmouth, says our perception of what represents “madness” is based on uncritical interpretations of the past and fantasies and inclinations within the human mind towards what he calls “self-haunting”. These tropes are perpetuated, confirmed and even encouraged at the persuasion of powerful individuals reinforced by mainstream media content.

So, for example, the Hollywood films Team America: World Police (2004) and The Interview (2014), despite being satires of North Korea’s leaders, promote this idea of the North Korean leader and his senior advisers as mad.  And Trump kept hammering at this with his regular references to Kim as a “madman”, as “crazy” and as a “little rocket man”.

North Korea’s prevailing international image of being mad is thus predominantly the creation of hostile external parties. But Pyongyang has also played up to it at times when it has been deemed useful – as the psychologist Dekleva said earlier in this article, it could be a useful tool of diplomacy. This is a theme explored by Niccolo Machiavelli in his book The Prince in 1517.

That said, what is perhaps most interesting is the extent to which recent US administrations and their allies appear to have come to believe the madness story – despite the fact that they are largely responsible for it. This has been the case with successive US administrations – but whether they genuinely believe it, or perpetuate it because it is convenient to their wider foreign policy ambitions to do so, remains to be seen.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | culture and arts, North Korea, politics, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

N.Korea tests first ‘strategic’ cruise missile with possible nuclear capability 

N.Korea tests first ‘strategic’ cruise missile with possible nuclear capability  https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/nkorea-test-fires-long-range-cruise-missile-kcna-2021-09-12/ By Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith  

  • Tests involved new, long-range cruise missiles – KCNA
  • New missiles represent serious capability for N.Korea – analysts
  • U.S. military: Launches highlight threat to N.Korea’s neighbours
  • Tests came before meeting by U.S., Japan, S.Korea to discuss N.Korea
  • SEOUL, Sept 13 (Reuters) – North Korea carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, state media said on Monday, seen by analysts as possibly the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Peter Cooney and Lincoln Feast.

September 14, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. says North Korea nuclear report shows “urgent need for dialogue” -official

U.S. says North Korea nuclear report shows “urgent need for dialogue” -official WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Nick Macfie, 31 Aug 21, – A U.N. watchdog report that North Korea appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor reflects an urgent need for dialogue and the United States is seeking to address the issue with Pyongyang, a senior administration official said on Monday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report dated Friday that the signs of operation at the 5-megawatt (MW) reactor, which is seen as capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, were the first to be spotted since late 2018. 

“This report underscores the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy so we can achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the senior administration official said on customary condition of anonymity.

“We continue to seek dialogue with the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) so we can address this reported activity and the full range of issues related to denuclearization.”……….

Biden’s administration has said it will explore diplomacy to achieve North Korean denuclearization, but shown no willingness to ease sanctions.  https://www.reuters.com/world/china/us-says-north-korea-nuclear-report-shows-urgent-need-dialogue-official-2021-08-30/

August 31, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 1 Comment

The Case for a New North Korean Nuclear Deal


T
he Case for a New North Korean Nuclear Deal
Mutual distrust has doomed past efforts to settle a deal between the U.S. and North Korea
., The Diplomat 
By Iordanka Alexandrova, August 11, 2021
  President Joe Biden is planning a full review of U.S. policy toward North Korea. However, unless his team abandons bilateralism and the insistence on “inspections first, negotiations later,” his new approach is unlikely to break the nuclear stalemate with Pyongyang.

The diplomatic impasse continues because the two sides cannot find a way to trust each other. 

Negotiating a nuclear deal between North Korea and the United States is challenging since both sides face strong incentives to cheat. When negotiating, Washington hopes to see Pyongyang cooperate by disarming, at which point it will be tempted to make new demands. Pyongyang prefers to reap the benefits of cooperation with Washington, while making sure its deterrent stays in place as insurance. As a result, neither can credibly commit to uphold the terms of any agreement………………

The only hope to restrain North Korea’s nuclear development is through a reversal of American policy. Biden would have to revive multilateral talks, ease sanctions, and commit to concessions to negotiate a mutually acceptable deal…………

There are two main reasons why the timing is perfect for crafting a new functional deal.

First, Pyongyang appears more willing to cooperate. The country is in deep economic trouble. Kim’s unprecedented recognition that North Korea has failed to fulfill its latest economic plan speaks of the gravity of the current situation. The coronavirus pandemic has also taken its toll on the country. Kim desperately needs a moment of stability, making him more likely to agree to meaningful concessions as long as they do not threaten the security of his regime.

Second, this time it may be possible to help North Korea trust U.S. security guarantees. Regional powers today are better equipped to assume more active roles in underwriting the deal between Washington and Pyongyang. China and possibly Russia have grown both their interest and capabilities to act as guarantors of an arms control agreement. There is a role for South Korea, albeit different from the course of direct inter-Korean cooperation pursued by the current administration. Seoul can offer its own guarantee, such as a promise to advocate on behalf of Pyongyang before Washington to increase mutual trust and understanding. Japan would be an important part of this effort as well.

Ultimately, the success of a deal will depend on the ability of North Korea and the United States to overcome their mutual distrust. If they use the present opportune moment to set in motion a virtuous circle of trust-building, a solution of the nuclear issue might soon come in sight. https://thediplomat.com/2021/08/the-case-for-a-new-north-korean-nuclear-deal/

August 12, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

The tally of North Korea’s nuclear weapons


Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does North Korea have in 2021? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 

By Hans M. KristensenMatt Korda, July 21, 2021  orth Korea has made significant advances over the past two decades in developing a nuclear weapons arsenal. It has detonated six nuclear devices––one with a yield of well over 100 kilotons––and test-flown a variety of new ballistic missiles, several of which may be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets in Northeast Asia and potentially in the United States and Europe. However, there is considerable uncertainty about which of North Korea’s missiles have been fielded with an active operational nuclear capability.


It is widely assumed that North Korea has operational nuclear warheads for medium-range missiles. However, it is unclear whether it has managed to develop fully functioning nuclear warheads that can be delivered by long-range ballistic missiles and, following violent atmospheric reentry, detonate as planned. That said, just because North Korea has not yet publicly demonstrated a capability to deliver a functioning nuclear reentry vehicle on a long-range ballistic missile does not necessarily indicate that it is not working on developing one or could not field one in the future. It is clear from its development efforts and public statements that North Korea ultimately intends to field an operational nuclear arsenal capable of holding regional and US targets at risk.

Due to the lack of clarity surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, agencies and officials of the US intelligence community, as well as military commanders and nongovernmental experts, struggle to assess the program’s characteristics and capabilities. Based on publicly available information about North Korea’s fissile material production and missile posture, we cautiously estimate that North Korea might have produced sufficient fissile material to build 40 to 50 nuclear weapons and that it might possibly have assembled 10 to 20 warheads for delivery by medium-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea’s nuclear policy

North Korea declared a no-first-use policy following its fourth nuclear test in 2016; however, it diluted its statement with the caveat that it would not “be the first to use nuclear weapons […] as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty”………………

Nuclear testing and warhead capabilities

After six nuclear tests––including two with moderate yields and one with a high yield––there is no longer any doubt that North Korea can build powerful nuclear explosive devices designed for different yields. ………………………..

Medium-range ballistic missiles

North Korea has developed three medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), all three of which are likely to be operational. This is the category of missile that is most likely to have an operational nuclear capability…………

Intercontinental ballistic missiles

The most dramatic development has been North Korea’s display and test-launching of large ballistic missiles that appear to have intercontinental range. North Korea has publicly shown five types of missiles in this category: the Taepo Dong-2, the Hwasong-13, the Hwasong-14, the Hwasong-15, and the Hwasong-16. These systems are in various stages of development, and some may simply be mockups or technology demonstrators……………………. https://thebulletin.org/premium/2021-07/nuclear-notebook-how-many-nuclear-weapons-does-north-korea-have-in-2021/


July 22, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea Needs the Bomb to Protect Itself From America

North Korea Needs the Bomb to Protect Itself From America

Pyongyang isn’t crazy, just focused on a credible threat. 

Foreign Policy,By Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. 9 July 21,  ”’…………..  North Korea’s quest for nukes has helped make it an economic disaster, turning it into a global pariah and diverting resources from economic investment. That’s one reason the country, as Kim admitted in public recently, is facing another critical food crisis. However, it now is an unofficial member of the world’s exclusive nuclear club.

Nevertheless, the mere possession of nuclear weapons does not mean it threatens America with them. North Korea makes no pretense of having global concerns, other than using diplomatic relations for profit when possible. In the abstract, the Kim dynasty has no interest in the United States or even the Western Hemisphere. Pyongyang’s priority is regional, especially avoiding domination by another power.China exerted substantial influence (Russia less so) over the ancient Korean kingdom, long known as a shrimp among whales. Japan was a colonial oppressor during the first half of the 20th century. Most important today is North Korea’s relations with South Korea, as the two states remain engaged in a de facto civil war, short-circuited by outside intervention in 1953. One reason China’s importunities against North Korea’s nuclear program fall flat is because such weapons help Pyongyang preserve its independence from Beijing.

However, the United States has intruded in Northeast Asia. America intervened in the Korean War, maintains forces in and around the Korean Peninsula, is prepared to intervene in a future conflict, and regularly threatens to wage preventive war.

Indeed, Washington’s willingness to routinely oust governments on Uncle Sam’s naughty list makes the United States particularly dangerous. Washington can’t even be trusted to live up to a denuclearization accord, as Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi discovered a decade ago. The Iranians learned that one president’s word does not bind their successor.The North desires a deterrent. At the party congress earlier this year, Kim explained, according to a summary report by state media, that “Korea was divided by the U.S., the world’s first user of nukes and war chieftain, and the DPRK has been in direct confrontation with its aggressor forces for decades, and the peculiarities of the Korean revolution and the geopolitical features of our state required pressing ahead uninterruptedly with the already-started building of nuclear force for the welfare of the people, the destiny of the revolution and the existence and independent development of the state.”

That is a prolix way of saying Pyongyang needs the bomb to protect itself from Washington………… https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/07/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-united-states-deterrence/

July 10, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment