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North Korea Plutonium Enough for 10 Nuke Bombs, Says Seoul

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In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the USA mainland.

"We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile", Kim said in his New Year's address, "Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing".

He said: "If the missile is threatening, it will be intercepted".

"If it is not threatening, we won't necessarily do so.it may be more to our advantage to first of all save our interceptor inventory, and second to gather intelligence from the flight rather than do that when it's not threatening".

North Korea has never successfully test-fired long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, though analysts say it may be capable of doing so within the next five years.

Presenting its 2106 Defence White Paper, the ministry said that Pyongyang has 50 kilograms of plutonium, an increase of 10 kilos over the past three years.

The North also has a "considerable" ability to produce weapons based on highly-enriched uranium, it said in a two-yearly white paper, but did not estimate weapons-grade uranium stocks, citing impenetrable secrecy in the state's uranium program. Citing a series of launch failures for the already-deployed road-mobile intermediate-range Musudan missile, an official explained that it is hard to determine the stability of the North's longer-range weapons.

A ministry official explained that the latest evaluation is based on the timing of the reactivation and stoppage of reactor operations, the scale of spent fuel reprocessing and how much plutonium is consumed at nuclear experiments in the North.

Kim Jong-un smiles as he visits Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan province for the testing of a new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in this undated photo released April 9, 2016.

The address drew a swift response from USA president-elect Donald Trump, who took to Twitter vowing to halt Pyongyang in its tracks.

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