North Korea Has Obtained 20 Nukes Just Last Year

North Korea Has Obtained 20 Nukes Just Last Year

North Korea Has Obtained 20 Nukes Just Last Year. Credit | AP Photo

United States: In a disquieting revelation, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has divulged that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal now numbers 50 warheads—an increase of 20 over the previous year. This unsettling escalation is attributed to the Biden administration’s ineffective and misguided foreign policies, which have emboldened North Korea and other rogue nations.

The SIPRI “Yearbook 2024 Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security” scrutinized the armaments of nuclear states and global military dynamics. Although the bulk of nuclear armaments remains with the United States and Russia, China is swiftly augmenting and modernizing its arsenal. Significantly, 2024 marks the inaugural year when China is presumed to have warheads on high operational alert.

North Korea’s autocratic leader, Kim Jong-un, is already escalating the concentration of nuclear weapons in the region. In the current year, with reference to SIPRI, North Korea has assembled about fifty warheads and has enough fissile material to create ninety warheads, which is even more than the previous year.

Despite abstaining from nuclear test detonations in 2023, North Korea tested a short-range ballistic missile from a primitive silo and developed at least two variants of land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs) designed for nuclear delivery. This rapid nuclear advancement has transpired under the Biden administration, which has inadequately addressed North Korea’s belligerent actions.

In 2023, SIPRI estimated North Korea had 30 assembled warheads. North Korea’s abstention from nuclear testing since 2017, while persisting in its threats against South Korea—technically still at war—highlights the current administration’s inability to mitigate this peril. Kim Jong-un’s recent inflammatory rhetoric, derogatorily referring to South Koreans as “ROK scums” and designating them as the “principal enemy,” accentuates the mounting danger.

Matt Korda, an Associate Researcher with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, cautioned that North Korea’s swift nuclear buildup is fostering “growing concern that North Korea might deploy these weapons very early in a conflict.” The Biden administration’s lack of a robust response has only emboldened Kim Jong-un, imperiling regional and global security.

For decades, North Korean state media refused to acknowledge South Korea as a separate nation. This stance shifted in January when Kim Jong-un began referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea (ROK), indicating a readiness to resume hostilities. In April, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong-un had orchestrated a “combined tactical drill simulating a nuclear counterattack,” clearly signifying North Korea’s preparedness to utilize nuclear weapons.

Tensions between the Koreas have escalated, with North Korea deploying hundreds of balloons laden with refuse and excrement across the border—a grotesque retaliation to political pamphlets sent into the North by activists. South Korea responded by reactivating loudspeakers in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to broadcast news and Korean pop music to North Korea.

The SIPRI report also illuminated the global nuclear tableau, with 12,121 nuclear warheads extant as of January 2024. Approximately a third of these—3,904—are actively deployed, with over 90 percent belonging to Russia and the United States. While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to decrease as Cold War-era weapons are dismantled, the number of operational nuclear warheads is on the rise, a trend SIPRI Director Dan Smith finds “extremely concerning.”

This perilous and reckless expansion of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities under the Biden administration’s watch necessitates immediate attention. Negotiations have led to one policy being replaced by another, and thus there is no proper and long-term strategy to deal with national and international threats.

These measures do not offer much consolation to the American populace or its allies; hence, it is vital for the Biden administration to act vigorously, enforce effective policies, and punish rogue nations for the sake of protecting the citizens of the United States.

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