What Kind of Bombs Does North Korea Have? A Guide to Kim Jong Un's Nuclear Weapons

Does North Korea have a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the mainland U.S.? Getty Images

As President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shout insults and threats at each other from across the globe, many Americans might find themselves wondering about North Korea's true nuclear capabilities.

In other words, is the belligerent yet reclusive regime as big a threat as Trump seemingly makes it out to be? Here are the facts:

Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests in total, beginning in 2006. With each test, its nuclear weapons have grown in power. The 2006 test involved a plutonium-fueled atomic bomb with a yield equivalent to 2 kilotons of TNT. The explosion from the most recent test, carried out September 3, measured 140 kilotons—making it roughly 10 times as strong as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

North Korea is determined to develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the mainland U.S. Getty Images

At present, North Korea is believed to have anywhere between 25 and 60 nuclear weapons, based on U.S. intelligence assessments and analysis from independent experts. Kim's regime is also said to have developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of being fitted on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The larger question is whether the regime has acquired the technology that would allow such a weapon to reach the U.S. mainland. For an ICBM to successfully make that journey, it would need to fly in an arc, up into space, before traveling back down to Earth and hitting its target. It's still an open question whether North Korea has developed a warhead capable of surviving re-entry into the atmosphere.

"[North Korea] is likely a few more ICBM tests launched in a standard trajectory away from being able to reach the U.S. mainland. However, it will also have to make sure the warhead that an ICBM would carry is sufficiently small, light and robust to survive. My estimate is that will require both a few more ICBM tests and another nuclear test—likely another couple of years away," Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford professor who is an expert on nuclear weapons, told Newsweek.

North Korea is already thought to have medium-range missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to South Korea or Japan. For many years, it's also had short-range missiles that could reach its neighbors, such as the Scud.

North Korea has conducted 15 missile tests in 2017. Getty Images

In an addition to the nuclear test it conducted in early September, North Korea has conducted 15 missile tests in 2017, a record number. Its ballistic missile program has made big leaps over the past year, and North Korea is now believed to have an intermediate-range missile that could reach as far as the U.S. territory of Guam. Moreover, in July, the regime tested an ICBM—called Hwasong-14—that could reach the mainland U.S. In total, Pyongyang is thought to have as many of 1,000 missiles of varying ranges, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Meanwhile, Kim's regime likely has the "capacity to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents" and is estimated to have stockpiled between 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, according to a January 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Defense. North Korea is also believed to have biological weapons.

Additionally, we know North Korea has a standing army of around 1.1 million soldiers, ranking fourth in the world in terms of military size, in addition to 1,300 aircraft, nearly 300 helicopters, 430 combatant vessels, 250 amphibious vessels, 70 submarines, 4,300 tanks, 2,500 armored vehicles and 5,500 multiple-rocket launchers.