By Boluwatife Ezekiel Olaleye
North Korea may have more than triple the number of nuclear weapons that experts recently estimated, according to a story by The Washington Post.
The new count comes via a July 2017 report created by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. According to the newspaper, which obtained the document, “up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.” It’s a significant disparity compared to the 10 to 20 North Korean weapons the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated in July.
A separate confidential report obtained by The Post also suggests that the isolated nation — now facing $1 billion of sanctions approved by the UN security council on Saturday — has miniaturized its nuclear warheads to fit on top of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Recent North Korean launch tests, meanwhile, hint that such missiles could reach as far as New York or Washington, DC.
The news comes amid strained relations between the US and Russia nuclear superpowers, which have reached a “low point” due to US accusations that Russia meddled in the US election and is involved with the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
President Donald Trump has also inherited a $1 trillion program to modernize US nukes, and Russia now strains its budget to do the same for its arsenal. (In regard to Russia’s nuclear modernization, Trump has even said, “Let it be an arms race.”)
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists took note of such nuclear rhetoric and proliferation in January by advancing its Doomsday Clock 30 seconds. The symbolic shift implies that humanity is now just 2 minutes 30 seconds away from an apocalyptic “midnight.”