By the end of this year, North Korea might produce 20 nuclear bombs, thanks to advanced facilities for uranium enrichment and an already existent plutonium reserve. This is the alarm raised by a group of experts in a report published on the site of the Washington’s John Hopkins University.
According to scientists, the real nuclear potential of the Asian country is impossible to verify, but after Pyongyang conducted his last nuclear test (and perhaps is preparing to carry out another one), it is clear that he does not experience shortage of materials. According to Siegfried Hecker, a leading expert in this topic and former director of the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is likely that they have 150 kg of highly enriched uranium available every year, enough to produce six nuclear bombs; and let us not forget their 32-54 kg of plutonium supply, which might suffice to produce 20 nuclear bombs by the end of 2016.
The American Provocation
These revelations arrived after Pyongyang had accused the US of pushing the peninsula to the “explosion point”, following the two B-1 bombers sent in the airspace of South Korea, America’s ally. The American initiative, in addition to the overflight of up to a few dozen kilometers from the border with the North, saw the novelty of ‘performance of “joint training” with fighter jets from Seoul and Tokyo (a true novelty), confirming the growing impatience towards Pyongyang’s unpredictability. “These flights prove the bound of solidarity among South Korea, the US and Japan in defending against North Korea’s provocative and destabilizing actions” – said in a statement Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command. Having left on Tuesday morning from Guam, the American Superjets have created a training unit jointly with two F-2 of the Japanese Forces of Self-defense, southwest of the archipelago. Then they overflew Osan Air Base, very low, south of Seoul and 120 kilometers from the North Korean border, with four South Korean F-15K and the same number of American F-16, before returning to Guam.
Criticism from Beijing
The Japanese role, although set back, “answers the political directives” given in the new guidelines for the bilateral cooperation on the US-Japan defense, revised in April 2015 and wanted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: following the repeated nuclear and missile threats from the North and ‘China’s assertiveness at sea and in the airspace, the two governments have pledged to take measures to ensure peace and security in Japan, which lacks continuity, from time of peace to the contingencies.
China, Pyongyang’s historical ally with which relations are growing more and more difficult, criticized the American move: “It is not in the interest of each country to fall into a vicious circle of tension and irritation,” said the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying. Under this criticism fall the US anti-missile Thaad systems, which will be operating in South Korea by the end of 2017.