While a new study from Stanford University estimates that North Korea poses slightly less of a risk today than it did it last year because missile tests have ceased, the study concludes that Kim Jong-un has probably added at least 5 to 7 nuclear warheads to his arsenal.
By examining satellite imagery, Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation concluded that North Korea produced enough nuclear fuel to build more bombs in the past year.
Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico who is now at Stanford and was one of the report’s authors, told Reuters analysis of satellite imagery showed North Korea’s production of bomb fuel continued in 2018.
He said spent fuel generated from operation of the 5 megawatt reactor at its main nuclear plant at Yongbyon from 2016-18 appeared to have been reprocessed starting in May and would have produced an estimated 5-8 kg of weapons-grade plutonium.
This combined with production of perhaps 150 kg of highly enriched uranium may have allowed North Korea to increase the number of weapons in its arsenal by between five and seven, the Stanford report said.
Of course, this probably won't surprise anyone reading this.
It has long been clear that Kim Jong-un's goal is to string Trump along with a protracted series of vague promises and Dear John letters. And it's working.
Trump is scheduled to meet Kim Jong-un in Vietnam later this month and I doubt Trump will broach the conclusions of this study or even the conclusions of American intelligence who obviously have access to much better information than universities do.
It's incredibly difficult for me to imagine that Trump's next meeting with Kim Jong-un scheduled for February 27th will transpire any differently than their first meeting. Their first meeting concluded with a hand shake and their signatures on a document that committed both nations to doing nothing specific at all.
But that is not to say that neither side got what they wanted from it. Trump got to feel like a big boy for a few hours and Kim Jong-un received legitimization. And it's going to happen again.