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Pyongyang could have 100 nukes by 2020: US researchers

A missile is carried by a North Korean military vehicle in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013.

North Korea could have 100 atomic arms by 2020 amid a possible expansion of the country’s nuclear program over the next five years, US researchers say.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland, unveiled the preliminary results of a 15-month study on Tuesday, predicting that Pyongyang currently stockpiles some 10 to 16 nuclear weapons fashioned from either plutonium or weapons-grade uranium.

However, three possible scenarios exist that may explain North Korea’s position on nuclear arms by 2020, the researchers said.

The first scenario would see a doubling of North Korea’s nuclear arms to about 20 units, while the second scenario has Pyongyang reaching 50 arms by 2020.

The third scenario allows for North Korea to achieve rapid growth in its nuclear stockpile, possessing up to 100 arms in five years, the researchers said.

This is while European companies could be unwittingly contributing to North Korea's alleged nuclear program, they said, claiming that private companies in China are buying equipment and sending it across the Chinese-North Korean border to Pyongyang.

North Korea tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. It has been the subject of UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests.


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