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The Wall Street Journal reported that China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production, with numbers that suggest Pyongyang could make enough warheads to threaten the United States regional security as well as US allies.

The Wall Street Journal reported that China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production, with numbers that suggest Pyongyang could make enough warheads to threaten the United States regional security as well as US allies.

As quoted in the market news:

The latest Chinese estimates, relayed in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists, showed that North Korea may already have 20 warheads, as well as the capability of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, according to people briefed on the matter.

A well-stocked nuclear armory in North Korea ramps up security fears in Japan and South Korea, neighboring U.S. allies that could seek their own nuclear weapons in defense. Washington has mutual defense treaties with Seoul and Tokyo, which mean an attack on South Korea or Japan is regarded as an attack on the U.S.

The Chinese estimates reflect growing concern in Beijing over North Korea’s weapons program and what they see as U.S. inaction while President Barack Obama focuses on a nuclear deal with Iran.

A well-armed North Korea may prompt the U.S. to adopt countermeasures, especially in missile defense. Adm. William Gortney, head of U.S. Northern Command, said this month that defense officials believe North Korea can now mount a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile called the KN-08. U.S. officials don’t believe the missile has been tested, but experts estimate it has a range of about 5,600 miles—within reach of the western edge of the continental U.S., including California.

Click here to read the full Wall Street Journal report.

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