North Korea is known for its Combustible bombast.But many are saying that the young Kim Jong-Un’s recent threats of a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea has crossed a line.But the question is,What Nuclear Weapons do North Korea Have? This will help us solve the issue of weather their boasting is dangerous or just a mouth talk.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and international Security estimated last year that North Korea had 10 to 16 nuclear weapons at the end of 2014.This was based on analysis of the country’s production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium recovered from spent nuclear fuel.
Revised estimates mean that the total could now have between 13 and 21.The country is also believed to have four warheads.
Each of the weapons are believed to have half the explosive power of those deployed by the US against Japan in WWII.North Korea’s interest in a nuclear weapons program dates to the end of World War II. Since then, Pyongyang developed a nuclear fuel cycle capability and has both plutonium and enriched uranium programs capable of producing fissile material.
North Korea declared it had roughly 38.5kg of weapons-grade plutonium extracted from spent fuel rods in May 2008, however external estimates have varied.Lets dive into their operational plan.
In November 2010, North Korea unveiled a uranium enrichment program ostensibly intended to produce low enriched uranium for power reactors, though it is possible for Pyongyang to produce highly enriched uranium for weapons purposes. North Korea conducted five nuclear weapons tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, and twice in 2016 claiming that the January 2016 test was a thermonuclear device; however, experts remain skeptical.
North Korea began its missile development program in the 1970s and tested a Scud-B ballistic missile in April 1984. North Korea is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
In its short-range arsenal, Pyongyang has produced the 500km-range Scud-C, the 700km-range Scud-D, and the solid-fueled KN-02, which is an upgraded version of the Russian SS-21 “Scarab” with a slightly longer range of about 120km. In its medium and intermediate-range arsenal, North Korea has the 1,300km-range missile known as the Nodong (Rodong), which it initially tested in 1993 (500km).
North Korea has deployed between 175 and 200 Nodong missiles.Pyongyang has also displayed its Musudan IRBM in parades. A yet-unnamed Nodong-variant was also displayed in October 2010, which possesses visible similarities to Iran’s Ghadr-1.North Korea’s Taepodong-1 (Paektusan-1), an 1800km-range space launch vehicle, has also been flight-tested. North Korea’s three-stage Taepodong/ Unha SLV has been tested with two successful launches as of March 2016.
North Korea agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile tests in exchange for food aid from the United States in February 2012. However, in April 2012 it attempted to launch the Kwangmyong-3 satellite into orbit using an Unha-3 launch vehicle. The launch failed after approximately 80 seconds, and the debris landed off the western coast of South Korea.
The U.S. government withdrew its offer of food aid because it considered the space launch, which relied on missile technology, to be a violation of the bilateral agreement as well as UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
Subsequently, North Korea displayed six never-before-seen missiles in a parade in honor of its founder Kim Il Sung. These missiles, known externally as KN-08s (Hwasong-13), were likely only mock-ups. The missiles were displayed on six trucks of Chinese-origin that were converted to transporter-erector-launchers (TELs). More recently, in October 2015, North Korea displayed a new version of the KN-08 with a smaller, less conical warhead.
On December 12, 2012, North Korea reattempted its Unha-3 launch, successfully putting a Kwangmyong-3 satellite into orbit. This test proved a significant advancement in North Korean missile technology. In order to deliver a nuclear payload, the rocket would require the addition of a re-entry vehicle which requires technology and advanced materials experts believe the regime is still working on acquiring.
In October 2014, North Korea completed upgrades to launch pads at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, potentially allowing the country to launch rockets larger than the Unha-3. On February 7, 2016, North Korea used the station to successfully launch the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite into low earth orbit using the Unha-3 rocket.
The launch was widely condemned by the international community as a test of North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities, which, in conjunction with its January 2016 nuclear test, triggered another round of UN sanctions against the country.
Pyongyang has also tested anti-ship cruise missiles numerous times since 1994. The North Korean missile identified as the AG-1 is based on the Chinese CSSC-3 ‘Seersucker’. Anti-ship cruise missile tests on May 25 and June 7, 2007 are believed to have been either the KN-01 or the Chinese-made CSSC-3 ‘Seersucker’.
In June 2014, North Korea released propaganda footage showing what appears to be a variant of the Russian Kh-35 anti-ship cruise missile. Kim Jong Un observed a launch of the KH-35 on February 7, 2015.
North Korea has added to its list of test launches a series of short-range rockets, including the SLBM-Polaris 1 in the summer of 2014; a test from a submerged barge in May 2015; and a failed KN-11 SLBM test in November 2015. In January 2016, shortly after the nuclear test, North Korea released footage purportedly showing an SLBM test. Later analysis of the footage by a team of experts proved it was a false claim.
On March 9, 2016, North Korea released photographs of Kim Jong Un inspecting what appears to be a miniaturized implosion device in front of several partially assembled KN-08 mod 1 and mod 2 rockets. On March 15, 2016, North Korea announced plans to conduct another nuclear test along with more missile tests.
On March 24, 2016, North Korea tested a solid-fueled rocket motor. Only a month later on April 23, North Korea tested what experts believe was a genuine solid-fueled SLBM (in contrast to the falsified 2014 test). The missile flew only 30 km, well below the expected range of 300 km according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Only a few months later, however, on August 24, North Korea performed a second SLBM test, this time launching a missile 500 km which landed in Japan’s air defense identification zone.
North Korea also accompanied these SLBM tests with a string of tests of its Nodong missile, its hitherto untested Musudan missile, and a new extended range Scud. Between April and June of 2016, North Korea tested the Musudan six times. The first five tests were failures, however, the sixth appears to have been a success with the missile flying over 400 km. In addition, North Korea also carried out a test of the Nodong missile.
On August 2nd North Korea launched two missiles one of which traveled about 1,000 km and landed only 250 km west of Japan, in the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). On September 5th, in the middle of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit, North Korea carried out a simultaneous test of three never before seen Scud-ER missiles which landed about 200 km west of Japan.
The new missile is similar in size to the Scuds usually employed by the regime but can travel almost twice as far. The test drew a sharp rebuke from members of the summit and from China who stated that the test damaged the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
There is another dicey thing, is Russia backing the North Koreans? I will research into that and get back to you.