What Nuclear Weapons does North Korea have? Is a question that has been lingering in the minds of many for years. It is a legitimate question, because Pyongyang has the ability to attack South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons, and they are close to developing long-range missiles that will eventually be able to hit the U.S. homeland and bases on Guam.
In fact, Pyongyang has tested two ICBMs, and last year tested an H-bomb with explosive power 10 times that of Hiroshima. North Korea has long sought to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea, and considers Seoul an obstacle to their goal of unification.
ICBMs are the primary weapon system for delivering nuclear warheads to targets. In January 2019, the North Korean leader offered a detailed list of his country’s arsenal, and he has since spent much of the year demonstrating new weapons and reaffirming his country’s capability to launch missiles. Despite violating several UN resolutions on ballistic missiles, North Korea is also testing its first hypersonic missile. It is called the Hwasong-8, and it has a range of 1,864 km.
Experts and governments estimate that North Korea is capable of transporting and storing fully fuelled nuclear weapons. In September 2017, North Korea conducted its largest nuclear test yet. Scientists have determined that the yield of this device is between 100 kilotons and 370 kilotons. The explosion of such a device was detected as an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude, and it was felt in China, 400 km away.
In addition to nuclear weapons, North Korea has biological weapons. It joined the Biological Weapons Convention in 1987, which banned the production and stockpiling of biological weapons. In 1988, North Korea also acceded to the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of gases and other deadly agents in warfare. It is also believed that North Korea has the ability to produce pathogens and weaponize smallpox, plague, and anthrax.
While it has a long history of nuclear weapon awareness, North Korea’s military involvement in nuclear technology has been quite recent. They have partnered with Pakistan and China on developing ballistic missiles. Pakistan received North Korean missile technology and centrifuge technology in the 1990s. The regime is also believed to have acquired designs for uranium warheads and nuclear technology from China. They later militarized their nuclear program by selling nuclear technology and materials to buyers including Iran and Libya.
Although North Korea may have only six nuclear weapons, it has tested many missiles with the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead. This is one of the most serious concerns facing the United States. As North Korea has the fourth largest military in the world, it poses a significant security threat. The United States has acted to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea, but the efforts have failed. In response to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, many nations have stepped up their efforts to put an end to it.
There is evidence that North Korea has a nuclear warhead and an upgraded ballistic missile that can reach the US continental region. Its range is around 13,000 km and can easily hit any US city. North Korea also has thousands of underground military facilities where they could hide missiles and launch a surprise attack. The question remains, what do we know about North Korea? It’s important to understand how far this country has gone to develop their arsenal.
As of September 2017, the country has conducted six nuclear tests. The UN Security Council enacted resolution 1718 in 2006, demanding Pyongyang to rejoin the NPT and end its nuclear weapons activities. North Korea first began building its nuclear research center with Soviet assistance in the early 1960s, and gained access to plutonium reprocessing technology. In December 1985, North Korea joined the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state. In 1992, the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered that North Korea diverted plutonium from its civilian program to weapons use.
Regardless of their deployments, North Korea has several ballistic missiles. Their latest ballistic missiles are the Hwasong-5 and Hwasong-6. They have a range of 500-1000 km and can be launched from submarines. They are also developing a submarine-launched missile known as the KN-11. The first test of this missile was conducted in December 2014. Photos from the May 2015 Sinpo site reveal the firing of a ballistic missile from a submerged barge.