SEOUL – South Korea believes North Korea has managed to store some 50 kgs (110.2 pounds) of enriched plutonium, enough to make 10 nuclear bombs, according to the Defense White Paper 2016 published on Wednesday.
However, the Defense Ministry at Seoul, in its current biennial edition of the white paper, has decided to remove its assessment that North Korea is capable of posing a threat to the United States with its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) following analysis of recent launches by the Kim Jong-un regime.
The paper also says that Pyongyang has improved its technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads and fit them on missiles.
The biannual report comes shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said during his New Year’s speech that they are preparing for an ICBM launch.
The hermetic country has conducted six test launches under its Kwangmyongsong (Bright Star) program to put observation satellites into space.
Since space rockets use the same technology as an ICBM, the United Nations has considered the launches to be disguised missile tests, which have been banned for Pyongyang because of sanctions.
Kim, in his speech, did not refer to the space program and literally spoke of missiles, which is why it is believed that Pyongyang could fire its KN-08 or its supposedly improved version KN-14, both of which could have a range of some 10,000 km (6,214 miles), enough to reach the U.S. mainland.