By Hans M. Kristensen
North Korea’s news agency – Korean Central News Agency – apparently has issued a statement saying that “The Federation of American Scientists of the United States has confirmed (North) Korea as a nuclear weapon state.” According to a report in the Korea Herald, the statement said a FAS publication issued in November listed North Korea as among the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons.
It’s certainly curious that they would need our reaffirmation, but after two nuclear tests we feel it is safe to call North Korea a nuclear weapon state. However, the agency left out that our assessment comes with a huge caveat:
“We are not aware of credible information on how North Korea has weaponized its nuclear weapons capability, much less where those weapons are stored. We also take note that a recent U.S. Air Force intelligence report did not list any of North Korea’s ballistic missiles as nuclear-capable.”
In other words, two experimental nuclear test explosions don’t make a nuclear arsenal. That requires deliverable nuclear weapons, which we haven’t seen any signs of yet. Perhaps the next statement could explain what capability North Korea actually has to deliver nuclear weapons.
This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.