North Korea is estimated to have spent $620 million on its nuclear weapons program in 2019, about 6 percent of its gross national income, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said Wednesday in its latest annual report on nuclear spending.
The figures are based on two previous estimations on the reclusive communist state’s military spending from South Korean and international think tanks that in 2009 the North seemed to have spent $8.77 billion, about 35 percent of its gross national income at that time, and in 2011, about 6 percent of its military spending seemed have gone to its nuclear weapons program.
Given the expenditure trajectory, the ICAN report projected that $10.2 billion, about 35 percent of the country’s reported GNI in 2018 of $29.2 billion, would be its defense budget, and 6 percent of that spending, about $620 million, would be Pyongyang’s nuclear expenditure in 2019.
That means the North spent $1,180 every minute on nuclear weapons last year. The communist country is believed to have 35 nuclear weapons, according to the report.
The US, China, UK and Russia in descending order had the highest spending on nuclear programs, investing $8 billion and over, with the US topping the list at $35 billion. They were followed by France, India, Pakistan and Israel, which all spent below $5 billion, with North Korea spending the least.
Mathew Ha, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense Democracies, told Radio Free Asia that ascertaining the accurate budget North Korea is dedicating to beef up its nuclear arsenal is uneasy, given scarce information available on the reclusive regime.
But, the senior analyst specializing on North Korea added that Pyongyang’s latest nuclear spending in the face of US sanctions reinforces the argument in favor of stronger international sanctions on the reclusive country that still refuses to dismantle its nuclear arsenal despite its earlier promises to do so.
Pyongyang is illegally financing nuclear activities, he added.