North Korea will have enough material for about 20 nuclear bombs by the end of this year, with ramped-up uranium enrichment facilities and an existing stockpile of plutonium, according to new assessments by weapons experts.
North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain.
The Obama administration will seek a formal political agreement at the United Nations that would legally bind the United States to a nuclear test ban treaty rejected by the Senate 17 years ago.
North Korea fired a submarine-launched missile on Wednesday that flew about 500 km (311 miles) towards Japan, a show of improving technological capability for the isolated country that has conducted a series of launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
North Korea warned Monday that it would launch a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S. and South Korea if they showed the “slightest sign of aggression” toward Pyongyang while conducting their annual military drills.
The United States has reportedly begun relocating nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania amid heightened tensions between Washington and Ankara.
North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production by reprocessing spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as perceived U.S. threats remain, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday.
Russia is building large numbers of underground nuclear command bunkers in the latest sign Moscow is moving ahead with a major strategic forces modernization program.