Estimates of North Korea's nuclear weapons hard to nail down

Published On: August 18, 2017 02:04 PM NPT By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, August 18: U.S. assessments of the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal vary wildly.

Some conclude North Korea has or can make 30 to 60 nuclear weapons.

Estimates by civilian experts cloud the picture. They guess North Korea has just a dozen to about 30 weapons.

Size matters and not knowing makes it harder to develop a policy for deterrence and for the U.S. to defend itself and allies in the region.

North Korea expert Bruce Bennett says if North Korea only has three, it won't use them early in a conflict. If they have 30-plus, he says they will consider using them at the beginning of a conflict.

The Arms Control Association's Kelsey Davenport says, however, that determining the exact size of the arsenal is far less urgent than de-escalating tensions.


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