North Korea could be ready to wage nuclear war with the US and its allies by 2027, a report warns.
Experts reckon the rogue state is six years from amassing up to 242 nukes and dozens of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
They urged the US to consider "all options" against tubby tyrant Kim Jong-un including deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.
The Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the Rand Corp. issued the warnings in a joint report citing US intelligence and other analysis.
It claimed the North may soon be able to employ the nuclear threats and attacks in "much more coercive and diverse ways," such as preemptive nuclear strikes.
"It is estimated that the total number of North Korea's nuclear weapons by 2027 would be between 151 and 242, in addition to tens of mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles," the think tank report said.
"We estimate North Korea's number of nuclear weapons from 2017 through 2027, with the starting value of 30 to 60 nuclear weapons in 2017, with one to two plutonium weapons added by 2020, and with the numbers growing by either 12 weapons per year or 18 weapons per year."
It added "serious" considerations should be given to a preemptive nuclear strike by the US and the South.
And that the West should put "all options" on the table to stop the North deploying nuclear weapons.
Pentagon chief blasts North Korea's 'flagrant violation' of global missile test rules
"The United States could also threaten North Korea that if it crosses an ICBM or nuclear weapon inventory threshold, or both, the United States will station in the ROK (Republic of Korea/South Korea) eight to ten tactical nuclear weapons capable of destroying deep underground facilities.
"Unlike in a conventional conflict, in a nuclear conflict, the ROK is not ready to take the principal role in confronting North Korea, especially in the initial stage of a contingency."
A UN panel report has warned North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs amid signs a shipyard on its east coast is a site for submarine launched ballistic missile tests.
Military monitoring North Korea's new missile-launching submarine 'nearing completion'
The think tanks also warned the hermit nation could interpret plans to transition wartime operational controls from Washington to Seoul in the South as a "sign of faltering US commitment to the defense of the ROK".
The Asan Institute for Policy Studies on its website says it is "an independent, non-partisan think tank with the mandate to undertake policy-relevant research to foster domestic, regional, and international environments conducive to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as Korean reunification".
Get latest news headlines delivered free
Want all the latest shocking news and views from all over the world straight into your inbox?
We've got the best royal scoops, crime dramas and breaking stories – all delivered in that Daily Star style you love.
Our great newsletters will give you all you need to know, from hard news to that bit of glamour you need every day. They'll drop straight into your inbox and you can unsubscribe whenever you like.
You can sign up here – you won't regret it…
The Rand Corporation says its "research and analysis address issues that impact people around the world including security, health, education, sustainability, growth, and development".
Source: Read Full Article