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N. Korea believed to have 30 to 40 nuclear warheads: SIPRI Updated: 2019-09-17 04:15:34 KST

North Korea is believed to have 30 to 40 nuclear warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.

The director of the thinktank's nuclear disarmament programme, Shannon Kile, said so in a press conference held in Seoul Monday, stressing, however, that there are many uncertainties.

"Yes, so for the next year coming up, we'll say North Korea has within 30 to 40 warheads. This is a rough estimate, and this is based upon what we know of North Korea's fissile material production capabilities rather than the nuclear weapons."

This is about 10 warheads more than the institute estimated in June.
The director said this is a median estimate based on their open sources from satellites and experts around the world, while highlighting that there is not a source that clearly states whether it's correct or not.

Asked whether Pyeongyang is truly willing to denuclearize, the director of SIPRI, Dan Smith, said yes, but it depends on how both sides define it, as the North could ask for a nuclear-free Peninsula.
So he emphasized the importance of detailed preparation at the working level.
Smith said the failure to prepare is what led to the collapse of the Hanoi summit, and he was hopeful that reports are correct that a meeting between the nuclear envoys will take place in the coming weeks.

When asked what role South Korea might play in the talks, Smith said it needs to keep working to improve ties with the North for when progress can be made, while encouraging a softer U.S. policy on North.

"It needs to achieve a fine balance between simultaneously aligning with U.S. policy and encouraging U.S. policy into the most peace positive form. And it needs to maintain the balance between consistently stressing both governments, such as the U.S., but also for South Korean citizens to understand."

As for whether President Trump's reelection campaign could become a factor in speeding up the negotiations, Smith said it's not so straightforward. History shows it's difficult for U.S. presidents to focus on major foreign policy achievements just a few months before the election period.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
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