North Korea and Iran have recently been targeted for additional sanctions by the U.S. legislative bodies. Yet, the ties between Iran and North Korea have clearly grown, although the reasons for this relationship don’t appear to be based on a similar governing philosophy. Instead, they both have nuclear ambitions. North Korea has made progress in achieving their nuclear ambitions and their knowledge is up for sale.
Iran sees North Korea’s knowledge and experience as key to taking their program to the next level, making them a definite customer as North Korea continues to look for cold, hard cash. Thus, the development of the North Korean nuclear program could lead to leaps and bounds for the Iranian nuclear program’s development.
A new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs of the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs might be much smaller.
“The IC assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states.
While it seemed that North Korea was years away from a nuclear weapon that could fit on a missile, it seems that they have achieved this critical milestone.
This nuclear progress raises the stakes for the United States, especially President Trump, who vowed to keep North Korea from threatening the U.S. with nuclear weapons. The administration is now looking at all the options open to them, including the military ones.
Yet, determining the precise makeup of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has been a long and difficult challenge, due in large part to the country’s isolation from the international community as a whole.
“What initially looked like a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis is now looking more like the Manhattan Project, just barreling along,” said Robert Litwak, a nonproliferation expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “Preventing North Korea’s Nuclear Breakout,” published by the center this year. “There’s a sense of urgency behind the program that is new to the Kim Jong Un era.”
While there have been other intelligence reports that overestimated the North Korean threat, recent surprises from North Korea have demonstrated that they are years ahead of what was the original timeline from the international community.