WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) — The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said North Korea has the capability to manufacture as many as 21 nuclear weapons.
A bill condemning North Korea’s nuclear tests includes an amendment revising an earlier estimate of 10-16 weapons of mass destruction.
According to the change, that estimate now stands at 13-21 nuclear bombs.
The amendment also indicated the deployment of U.S. anti-missile defense system THAAD may considerably improve the ability to respond to North Korea’s missile attacks.
On Wednesday South Korea confirmed the location where the THAAD system would be deployed sometime in late 2017.
Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has stated that the nuclear threat from North Korea must be met with a response.
To that end, he and other committee members co-sponsored the bipartisan bill, H.RES 634, reaffirming the importance of South Korea, U.S. and Japan trilateral cooperation in countering the threat of nuclear proliferation and human rights abuses in North Korea.
The bill, introduced on March 2, also supports joint military exercises in South Korea.
North Korea’s nuclear threat has been accompanied by an increasing number of missile tests.
Last week Pyongyang fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, which marked at least the second time the country has launched a SLBM in 2016. The projectile traveled about 6 miles before exploding in midair.
Joseph Bermudez, a co-founder and chief analytic officer of AllSource Analysis, said North Korea seems to be making progress on SLBM development, Yonhap reported.
Pyongyang is expected to conduct a full-range test within the next 12 months.
“With each test, they seem to be going a little further. This criticism that they haven’t tested the full range, I don’t think that’s really a valid criticism at this point,” Bermudez said.