North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday which landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone


  • North Korea has produced an average of six nuclear weapons per year between 2017 and 2022
  • North Korea could have as many as 96 simple nuclear warheads and 63 thermonuclear weapons
  • A nuclear weapon think tank warned North Korea is going down on a "dangerous path"

A new study by a nuclear weapon watchdog group revealed North Korea's significant progress in developing its nuclear arsenal over the past several years.

North Korea has increased its nuclear arsenal by 75% since 2017, according to a report published Monday by the Institute for Science and International Security.

The country can deploy an average estimate of 45 nuclear weapons and has been increasing its arsenal by an average rate of about six new nuclear weapons per year through 2022, the report claimed.

The study estimated that North Korea could have as many as 96 simple nuclear warheads and up to 63 more powerful thermonuclear weapons that "have the highest explosive yields."

The think tank also suggested that the secluded country appears to have the "means of increasing both [weapons-grade uranium] and plutonium production, and the number of its nuclear weapons," which showed the growing sophistication of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"North Korea is going down a very dangerous path, providing mixed messages on whether its growing arsenal is meant as a deterrent or whether it thinks it can start and win a nuclear war," think tank founder and weapons expert David Albright told the Washington Free Beacon.

"The North Korean regime must understand that it cannot win a nuclear war no matter how much it thinks its arsenal can grow in the coming years," Albright added.

The think tank's report came after North Korea claimed it tested another nuclear-capable underwater attack drone Saturday.

According to North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA, a "national defense science research institute" in the country tested the underwater nuclear drone between April 4 and 7.

"The underwater nuclear attack drone 'Haeil-2' ... cruised 1,000 km of simulated underwater distance ... for 71 hours and 6 minutes," the KCNA reported.

KCNA claimed that the test warhead proved its reliability and fatal underwater attack ability.

This was the third underwater nuclear drone test North Korea carried out after conducting two earlier tests amid the U.S. and South Korea's joint military exercises last month.

However, Choi Gi-il, a professor of military studies at South Korea's Sangji University, suggested that Russia could have provided some of North Korea's underwater drone technology.

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened the U.S. and its allies with a "nuclear attack" in response to the military drills with South Korea.

A commentary published by KCNA said the joint U.S.-South Korea drills, which featured a simulation of occupying a North Korean city, showed that the "hostile acts against the DPRK have reached the worst phase."

North Korea also protested another joint military exercise in June, accusing the U.S. and South Korea of "openly [committing] a military provocation."

In recent weeks, North Korea has carried out military drills and missile launch tests to flex its capabilities.

This includes the test launch of Hwasong-17, North Korea's largest intercontinental ballistic missile, which is believed to be capable of reaching the continental U.S.

North Korea also carried out tactical drills simulating a "nuclear counterattack."

North Korea has tested nuclear weapons six times since 2006 and touted the success of its last and most powerful test in 2017