North Korea Could Have 100 Nuclear Warheads (And Soon)

David Axe

Key point: President Trump's denuclearization effort is not going well.

By 2020 North Korea could possess as many as 100 nuclear warheads.

That's the startling conclusion of a January 2019 report from RAND, a California think tank with close ties to the U.S. military.

"North Korean provocations and threats have created an unstable environment on the Korean Peninsula," RAND's report explains. "North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles increases the possibility of their use against regional states, furthering instability across the region and beyond, thus affecting vital U.S. interests."

To deliver its nukes, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the regime in Pyongyang calls itself, is building up a large stockpile of rockets of varying ranges.

"The DPRK’s growing arsenal will provide its regime with multiple options to employ its nuclear weapons," the RAND report warns.

North Korea possesses more than 650 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting cities throughout South Korea, Japan and eastern China," the think tank noted. "If successfully mated with nuclear weapons, these missiles will allow the DPRK to hold military bases and population centers in northeast Asia at risk."

And if Pyongyang succeeds in developing a long-range rocket, it could also target Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and the northwestern continental United States.

With an arsenal of up to 100 nuclear warheads and a wide range of rockets to deliver them, Pyongyang could pursue a nuclear-war strategy that might actually work, RAND explained in its report.

"The DPRK could explode one or more early in a conflict as a warning, while reserving a salvo of 20 to 60 weapons to attack military targets like troop concentrations, air bases and seaports," the think tank posited.

"This would leave enough for a final salvo of 30 to 40 weapons to threaten attacks against cities in South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and—if they develop the delivery means—targets in the United States."

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