Pyongyang has 15 to 60 nuclear warheads and 650 ballistic missiles

The Institute for National Strategic Studies released the latest figures. Negotiations with the Trump administration have not stopped North Korean military ambitions. Kim's regime is a “quasi-criminal” enterprise funded by banned weapons sales, foreign currency counterfeiting, drug trafficking and cyberattacks against foreign banks.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korea has an estimated 15 to 60 nuclear warheads and about 650 ballistic missiles capable of striking South Korea, eastern China and Japan, this according to the latest report update by the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), a research centre affiliated with the National Defense University in Washington.

In June, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Kim Jong-un’s regime had about 30 to 40 atomic bombs, up from 20 to 30 in 2019.

This increase, substantially confirmed by the INSS, shows that the moratorium on nuclear tests and ballistic tests, unilaterally decreed by Pyongyang last year during negotiations with the Trump administration, did not stop its military ambitions.

On 10 October, during the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s ruling Workers' Party of Korea, the North Korean military unveiled a new ICBM.

South Korea estimates that the latter can carry multiple warheads, with a higher explosive charge than in the past.

In 2017, Pyongyang tested the Hwasong-15, which in principle could strike the continental United States and Western Europe.

North Korea is isolated from the international community (except for China and to a lesser extent Russia), and has been under international sanctions for years over its nuclear and missile programmes.

According to the INSS, it sells weapons and rocket technology to finance its own military budget. Its main customers are Iran, Sudan and Yemen’s pro-Iran and anti-Saudi Houthi rebels.

Other sources of funding are counterfeiting foreign currencies and drug trafficking, which, for the INSS, make North Korea more of a "quasi-criminal" enterprise than a legitimate nation-state.

According to the US research institute, Pyongyang puts in circulation anywhere between US.25 million to 0 million in counterfeit US money per year.

To fill up his regime's coffers, Kim also continues to authorise cyber-attacks against financial institutions in other countries.

The most striking case was in 2016, when North Korean cybercriminals managed to steal US$ 81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh.