CBN News — As world powers focus on trying to curb Iran’s nuclear pursuits, there’s new evidence that North Korea is building nuclear bombs at an alarming rate.
The nation may have as many as 20 nuclear warheads and that number could climb to 50 or 100 in the next five years.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Chinese nuclear experts are also warning that North Korea’s ability to produce weapons-grade uranium could double by next year.
The assessment comes as a top U.S military official believes North Korea is now capable of launching a missile with a nuclear warhead that could reach much of the western United States.
“Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 (ballistic missile) and shoot it at the homeland. We assess that it’s operational today, and so we practice to go against it,” Admiral William Gortney, head of U.S. Northern Command, said.
North Korea’s expanding arsenal has Japan and South Korea particularly concerned. This week, the U.S signed a new nuclear energy agreement allowing South Korea to conduct nuclear research but not produce its own nuclear fuel.
“It is an agreement befitting of the deep partnership and strong alliance that exists between our two countries,” Mark Lippert, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, said.
A top North Korean official shot back at the agreement, calling America’s foreign policy hostile to the region.
“The anachronistic hostile policy of the U.S. on the DPRK and its reckless confrontation mania prolong the touch-and-go situation in the Korean peninsula,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the revelation of the North’s accelerated nuclear program has some Republican lawmakers worried about President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran that is supposed to limit its nuclear program.
A 1996 agreement with North Korea was supposed to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities. It didn’t. Instead, the North is building a set of nuclear weapons.
Now Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Journal (ITALICS) he fears the same could happen with Iran.
“We saw how North Korea was able to game this whole process,” the California lawmaker said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Iran had its hands on the same playbook.”
Report via CBN News