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North Korea could have 40 nuclear weapons, Swedish think tank says

Independent estimates of North Korea's nuclear weapons are up from 2019. File Photo by KCNA/UPI
Independent estimates of North Korea's nuclear weapons are up from 2019. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) -- North Korea has in its possession 30 to 40 nuclear weapons, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says.

SIPRI's Yearbook 2020, an annual report released Monday, states North Korea added 10 nuclear weapons through January 2020. In 2019, the leading conflict and armaments think tank had estimated North Korea retained anywhere from 20 to 30 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

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SIPRI did not include information on North Korea nuclear weapons capabilities. According to Yonhap, the estimated number of North Korean nuclear warheads is not included in SIPRI'S global total.

The estimate of North Korea's weapons represents a small portion of all nuclear arms globally. According to SIPRI, an estimated total of 13,400 nuclear weapons could be found around the world as of January. The United States and Russia possess at least 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, the report says.

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North Korea continues to prioritize its nuclear program as the core of its national security strategy, according to SIPRI. The think tank said North Korea followed through with its pledge to suspend nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, but may have resumed several short-range ballistic missile tests through January.

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The report also said there are nine nuclear weapons states -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. The total weapons count is down from 2019.

"This marked a decrease from the 13,865 nuclear weapons that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2019. Around 3,720 of the nuclear weapons are currently deployed with operational forces and nearly 1,800 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert," SIPRI said.

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North Korea has shown signs it may be willing to return to a cycle of armed provocations.

Senior North Korean official Kim Yo Jong has threatened to turn the inter-Korea liaison office into a "tragic scene."

Analysts in the South are speculating whether the North intends to detonate the building in Kaesong, North Korea, according to News 1 on Monday.

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