By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) Analysts with the Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea has constructed at least 12 nuclear weapon devices since the first time leader Kim Jong-un and POTUS Donald Trump met to begin denuclearization negotiations in Singapore in June 2018.
In addition,Â The Wall Street Journal reports, North Korean weapons engineers have also ramped up production of long-range missiles and fissile materials used to manufacture nukes.
The paper noted:
Shipping containers, trucks and crowds of people moving materials and instruments at North Koreaâ€™s key weapons facilities like the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center and the Sanum-dong missile production site, suggest North Korea has continued producing fissile material and intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to analysts Jenny Town, a fellow at the Stimson Center, a think tank specialized on security issues, and Jeffrey Lewis, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, a research center analyzing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
According to Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist with Stanford University who has actually visited North Korea’s nuclear sites, says the country could be capable of making six to seven devices per year.
In all, he and other security analysts believe Pyongyang may currently have somewhere between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs.
The president has not made much of evidence gathered by analysts recently regarding North Korea’s continued nuclear operations. He said recently in a televised interview that Kim “promised he wouldn’t do it.” In addition, North Korea has not publicly discussed its nuclear or missile programs.
Indeed, POTUS downplayed the North’s latest missile tests this week noting that he wasn’t surprised by the test while also dismissing Pyongyang’s bellicose warning to the “warmongers” in South Korea.
In an interview with reporters in the Oval Office, the president said he wasn’t concerned that the launches would upset nuclear negotiations because â€œmany people have those missiles.â€
â€œWell you said it â€” theyâ€™re short-range missiles and my relationship is very good with Chairman Kim, and weâ€™ll see what happens,â€ he said during an impromptu gathering. â€œTheyâ€™re short range missiles, and many people have those missiles.â€
38 North, a North Korea analysis group, noted in a recent blog post that, “while the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site has not been abandoned, there is no activity around the test tunnels (portals) or Command Center.”
“Personnel movement around the Main Administrative Support Area has been evident including indications that vegetables are being grown in the greenhouse area. While no activity has been observed around the Command Center, the area continues to be well maintained since the test site was shut down in May 2018,” the organization said.
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