SEOUL, April 19 (UPI) -- North Korea could have miniaturized more than 600 pounds of nuclear warheads, a South Korean government body stated in a recent report.
Seoul's National Assembly Research Service said the warheads could be mounted on missiles in an analysis that runs counter to a South Korean military statement issued in March.
South Korea's defense ministry had said North Korea has not reached a stage where nuclear weapons can be mounted on ballistic missiles.
But the parliamentary research group's report, issued Thursday, concluded the North has been able to amass 660 pounds of miniaturized nuclear warheads, and the number of weapons range between 8 and 20, local newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported Tuesday.
The report stated Seoul's defense ministry estimates of North Korean nuclear reserves and miniaturization were "too conservative."
Miniaturization is achieved when the nuclear warhead weighs less than 2,200 pounds and the diameter of the bomb measures 35 inches or less, according to the research.
The report also noted the United States took seven years to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, while Russia took six and China took two years. It's likely, then, North Korea has miniaturized a weapon since conducting first nuclear test in 2006, the report stated.
More analysts believe North Korea is likely to conduct a fifth nuclear test in the country's run-up to the Seventh Party Congress, to be held May 7.
Experts at a joint seminar held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., noted North Korea could conduct a test at anytime.
In Seoul, defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun noted the possibility of another test is high and the South's military is on standby for any provocations.
China, however, could play a role in pressuring North Korea to rethink a fifth test before the May congress, according to South Korean analyst Yang Moo-jin.
Yang told CBS No Cut News that while it's possible the test could take place before the congress, if Pyongyang is wary of strong opposition from Beijing, it could decide to postpone the test after the event.