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North Korea’s nuclear build is going ‘full steam ahead’, watchdog expert warns

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North Korea's nuclear programme is powering ahead, the head of the global atomic energy watchdog said.

Kim Jong-un's despotic plan to build nuclear weapons with enriched uranium has worried international observers for years.

It's now pushing further ahead than ever, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mariano Grossi said.

Mr Grossi said: “In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, nuclear programme goes full steam ahead with work on plutonium separation, uranium enrichment and other activities," Reuters reported.

Recent satellite images show the capital Pyongyang vastly expanding its main Yongbyon nuclear site.

The new area is approximately 1,000 square metres, big enough to house 1,000 additional centrifuges.

That increases the death factory's capacity by 25% percent.

North Korea also recently announced its first ballistic missile tests in six months. Nuclear negotiations with the United States have stalled since 2019.

Nuclear weapons of mass destruction can be built with highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

North Korea's Yongbyon plant now has the capacity to build both.

It's not known how many nuclear weapons North Korea has or can build.

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Its top-secret nuclear arsenal is estimated to include roughly 30 to 40 nuclear weapons, such as missiles fitted with nuclear warheads.

That's compared with 225 nuclear warheads held by the UK, 290 by France, 90 by Israel and 320 by China.

India and Pakistan have roughly 150 each, while Russia has by far the most at well over 6,000 – even more than the United States' 5,800.

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Estimates on how many nuclear weapons North Korea can add every year vary, ranging from six to as many as 18.

That won't catch North Korea up with its main rivals, but it does mean Kim Jong-un can increasingly hold sway in global negotiations.

It also means being taken more seriously by neighbouring powerhouse China, Pyongyang's most crucial ally.

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It's not clear what might come of Kim's latest expansion, but any growth in North Korea's nuclear arsenal is likely to cause concern among the likes of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The organisation already has enough on its plate, bickering with Iran over the conduct of staff at its nuclear facilities.

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  • North Korea Dprk
  • World War 3
  • Kim Jong Un

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