North Korea could possess as many as 100 nuclear weapons by 2020, a US think tank has warned.
In a report released over the weekend, the RAND Corporation listed North Korea as the biggest of five major threats the US is facing around the world.
North Korea came in top, ahead of threats from Russia, Islamic State, China and cyber attacks.
North Korea detonated its second atom bomb this year
‘The most recent open-source estimates suggest North Korea may already have enough fissile material to build between 13 and 21 nuclear weapons; by 2020, it could possess enough for 50 to 100,’ the report said.
‘The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea’s official name] can already deliver nuclear weapons by aircraft or ship and perhaps by theater ballistic missiles; it is now testing nuclear-capable missiles that could threaten targets across the Pacific Ocean, including the continental United States.
‘Current estimates suggest a number of these nuclear-tipped missiles—long-range, road-mobile, and submarine-launched—could be operational between 2020 and 2025,’
The report continued: ‘During the next four to six years, Pyongyang will possess a nuclear force of sufficient size, diversity, reliability, and survivability to invalidate our regional military posture and war plans by holding at risk key bases and amplifying the risk to allies,’
The foreign policy think tank said the new US president would have ‘critical policy questions’ to face, including what measures needed to be taken to stop North Koreaen leader Kim Jong-un from developing more weapons, and how the US should respond if the provocation continues.
The report said presidential hopefuls must consider what measures needed to be taken to stop North Koreaen leader Kim Jong-un from developing more weapons
The report also said the new administration would have to consider what should be done if South Korea launches a counterforce attack or begins developing its own nuclear arsenal.
The think tank warned that both Japan and South Korea are ‘losing faith in the US nuclear umbrella’, which has led to the two US allies to call for ‘independent nuclear arsenals’.
‘Either an ROK [Republic of Korea – South Korea] or Japanese decision to develop nuclear weapons would likely lead the other to follow suit, fundamentally changing northeast Asian security dynamics and questioning the viability of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT),’ the report said.