According to Wikipedia, North Korea has a military nuclear weapons program — and as of early 2020, it’s estimated to have an arsenal of approximately 30-40 nuclear weapons and sufficient production of fissile material for 6-7 nuclear weapons per year. North Korea has also stockpiled a significant quantity of chemical and biological weapons.
According to the BBC, North Korea has made rapid progress in its weapons program, which it claims is necessary to defend itself against a possible U.S. invasion. Pyongyang, the capital of the country, started 2021 off with a bang, unveiling what state media has described as “the world’s most powerful weapon.” This new submarine-launched ballistic missile was launched at a huge parade overseen by the Supreme Leader of the Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, just days before the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Kim Jong-un has also pledged to expand North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and military potential even further.
As to President Biden’s wish that the North Korean government would curb its nuclear ambitions, Ralph Hutchison, of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, wrote recently, “There is no rational reason why North Korea should contemplate even for a second giving up its nuclear arsenal — not while the U.S. has a stockpile of 4,500 nuclear weapons, a massive military presence in South Korea and Japan, and a plan to invest trillions in building new bomb plants and weapons in the name of modernization.”
But President Biden could take a remarkably historic step by committing the U.S. to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and initiating serious talks with Russia and, eventually, talks with the lesser-armed nuclear states, including North Korea and Israel. It is the only rational path to security — and if he dared to do this, our president would be known forever as a true hero.
The Ban Treaty — as it is affectionately known, especially by peace activists — has been years in development thanks primarily to the work of ICAN, the International Campaign for the Abolishment of Nuclear Weapons. It has been signed and ratified through the General Assembly of the United Nations by 54 nations. It is a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. None of the nuclear weapon-possessing countries have signed or ratified the treaty, yet.
On May 21, President Joe Biden said he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, with whom he met in at the White House, remain “deeply concerned” about the situation in North Korea and announced he will deploy a new special envoy to the region to help refocus efforts on pressing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.