North Korea: Kim Jong Un seeks expanding nuclear arsenal

World Tuesday 28/March/2023 14:15 PM
By: DW
North Korea: Kim Jong Un seeks expanding nuclear arsenal

Pyongyang: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un called on his officials to focus "on increasing nuclear arsenals exponentially," the state's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday.

The leader ordered ramping up the production of "weapon-grade nuclear material" to build powerful bombs.

In the last month, North Korea's weapon's testing and the US-South Korea military drills have intensified in a tit-for-tat cycle, further underscoring the rising tensions in the region.

North Korean state media published on Tuesday images showing Kim talking to officials and inspecting a row of purported tactical nuclear warheads identified as the "Hwasan-31," which means "volcano" in Korean.

A poster on the wall had graphics that implied that the new, smaller  warhead could fit on some of North Korea's short-range ballistic systems and missiles.

Kim Jong Un said that the country has "flawlessly" prepared its nukes and that "the enemy would fear us and dare not provoke our state sovereignty system and people," according to KCNA.

North Korea's production of weapon-grade material
North Korea's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon has facilities to produce both plutonium and enriched uranium, the two main bomb fuels used to build nuclear weapons.

The country is believed to be operating at least one more covert uranium enrichment facility.

A South Korean biennial defense document released in February said that North Korea is estimated to have 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium. Observers say that this is enough for 9-18 bombs.

The South Korean document said North Korea has "a considerable amount of highly enriched uranium as well."

Repeated launches
Earlier this week, North Korea reportedly detonated mock warheads again,  fired two-short range ballistic missiles and tested a purported underwater drone.

Despite experts expressing skepticism regarding the readiness of the underwater drone, its testing signals the country's commitment to spur the expansion of its nuclear arsenal.

In 2022, North Korea launched a record of 70 missiles.