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2 Oct, 2018 14:36

North Korea may have up to 60 nukes in its arsenal – Seoul

North Korea may have up to 60 nukes in its arsenal – Seoul

North Korea may have obtained anything from 20 up to 60 nuclear weapons, a top South Korean official has revealed in what appears to be Seoul’s first public assessment of its neighbor’s stockpile.

The figures were outlined by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon to the South Korean parliament on Monday, AP said. He was reportedly citing intelligence data in response to a lawmaker’s question. South Korea’s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, has not commented on the statement so far.

Earlier reports claimed that Pyongyang has weaponized enough plutonium for at least eight bombs.  At the peak of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the North boasted of having developed an advanced hydrogen bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

The assessment comes as the two Koreas try to mend their relations in the wake of historic bilateral summits. The latest meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang last September ended with “specific denuclearization steps” and Kim’s consent to allow international observers oversee the dismantling of missile sites. Previously, North Korea invited a number of journalists to witness the destruction of its nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.

However, the rigid demands of the US, the third major player in North Korea’s denuclearization, seem to be stalling the process. During the recent UN General Assembly meeting, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho accused Washington of “relying on the coercive methods that prevent trust-building,” and while there is no cooperation from the US side, “unilateral disarmament” will stay out of the question. The minister also argued that the process became a hostage of the internal political struggle in the US.

Echoing the North Korean diplomat’s speech, Brian Becker from the ANSWER anti-war coalition told RT that there is no progress in denuclearization because the Trump administration simply does not want it to succeed. While the US made only one big concession for Pyongyang – canceling war games on its doorstep – it’s still not enough to break the denuclearization deadlock.