A prime South Korean official informed lawmakers that North Korea is estimated to have as much as 60 nuclear weapons, in Seoul’s first public remark in regards to the dimension of the North’s secrecy-clouded weapons arsenal.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon informed parliament Monday the estimates on the dimensions of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal vary from 20 bombs to as many as 60. He was responding to a query by a lawmaker, saying the knowledge got here from the intelligence authorities. The Nationwide Intelligence Service, South Korea’s most important spy company, couldn’t instantly remark.
Cho could have unintentionally revealed the knowledge. His ministry mentioned Tuesday Cho’s feedback didn’t imply that South Korea would settle for North Korea as a nuclear state, suggesting Seoul’s diplomatic efforts to rid the North of its nuclear program would proceed.
The South Korean evaluation on the North’s arsenal just isn’t a lot totally different from numerous exterior civilian estimates largely based mostly on the quantity of nuclear supplies that North is believed to have produced.
In keeping with South Korean authorities experiences, North is believed to have produced 110 kilos of weaponized plutonium, sufficient for at the least eight bombs.
Stanford College students, together with nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker who visited North Korea’s centrifuge facility at Nyongbyon in 2010, wrote earlier this yr that North Korea is estimated to have a extremely enriched uranium stock of 550 to 1,100 kilos, adequate for 25 to 30 nuclear gadgets.
WATCH: No clear timeline established for North Korea’s denuclearization
Many international consultants say North Korea is probably going operating further secret uranium-enrichment crops.
The North entered talks with the USA and South Korea earlier this yr, saying it’s keen to barter away its advancing nuclear arsenal. Nuclear diplomacy later stalled attributable to suspicions over how honest North Korea is about its disarmament pledge, however U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to go to Pyongyang this month to arrange a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean chief Kim Jong Un.