Seoul: North Korea could possess up to 242 nuclear warheads by 2027, which would allow for more threats and intimidation toward other countries, and possibly the sale of nuclear weapons abroad, a report published by South Korea’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies on Tuesday said.
According to the report, North Korea’s missile and nuclear capacities have been developing since their first nuclear test in 2006. By 2019, the country had from 30-36 kilograms (66-79 pounds) of plutonium, as well as from 175-645 kilograms of enriched uranium. In 2020, Pyongyang “could have 67 to 116 nuclear weapons, and, by 2027, North Korea might have 151 to 242 nuclear weapons,” Asan Institute said.
The report said that until now, North Korea’s strategy has concentrated on containment and attempts to come between the United States, South Korea and Japan. However, due to its further nuclear development, the country could use its growing nuclear arsenal in more violent and different ways — preemptive nuclear strikes, for example. It added that “the North Korean leaders might perceive that they could make some of those weapons available for sale,” as soon as the number of warheads reaches 100.
The experts also mentioned that the role of the South Korea-US alliance along with the UN will be more and more significant as the threat by North Korea grows, saying that “the ROK [North Korea] and the United States should remain open to diplomatic negotiations.” However, unless Pyongyang changes its behavior, the negotiations should be followed by increased pressure and economic sanctions.
In late March, North Korea confirmed that it tested new tactical guided missiles, considering this an implementation of the sovereign state’s right to self-defense.