Study: North Korea could have 79 nuclear weapons by 2020

The world is spiraling toward nuclear Armageddon, with Iran nearing nuclear weapons, and North Korea on a path toward a substantial nuclear arsenal. The crazy-sounding threats of the gangster regime in Pyongyang to inflict mortal damage in its enemies may soon be achievable. Josh Rogin and Ei Lake summarize the bad news in Bloomberg:

A new analysis of North Korea’s nuclear program by a group of top U.S. experts, led by David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, estimates that North Korea could have enough material for 79 nuclear weapons by 2020. The analysis, part of a larger project called "North Korea's Nuclear Futures" being run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies, has not been previously published. Albright said the North Korean government is ramping up its production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, speeding toward an amount that would allow it to build enough nuclear weapons to rival other nuclear states including India, Pakistan and Israel.

“North Korea is on the verge of being able to scale up its nuclear weapons program to the level of the other major players, so its critical to head this off,” Albright said in an interview. “It is on the verge of deploying a nuclear arsenal that would pose not only a threat to the United States and its allies but also to China.”

The regime now has four facilities churning out nuclear material, or preparing to do so.

“They are engaged in building a more fearsome nuclear arsenal. They see it as a vital part of their defense and want to make sure people are scared enough by it that they won't try any offensive actions against North Korea,” Albright said. “You have this growing arsenal in the hands of people who are always on edge, and it creates an environment that is unstable and could lead to a very large arms race in the region.”

With the Sony hack showing that the Norks are willing to take offensive action, and with President Obama displaying weakness and speaking only of “proportional” response, there is little chance of Pyongyang correcting its course. Instead, it will be further emboldened. Expect Japan to respond by going nuclear, now that the US has reneged on its security guarantee to Ukraine when that nation gave up its nuclear arsenal. A world in which a dozen or more nations have nuclear weapons, as will result from Iran gong nuclear, is not likely to avoid nuclear war,. And once that starts, where it ends is hard to predict.