South Korea's defense chief reported on Friday that he believes North Korea posesses one or two nuclear bombs and has a capacity to built a lot more. The world is expecting North Korea to begin testing the weapons any day, AP reports.
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung made the remark during a parliamentary meeting, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said. Ministry officials were not immediately available to confirm the statements.
The comment was seen as a change in South Korea's assessment of the North's nuclear capability, with Seoul previously saying only that the North had the capability to build one or two nuclear weapons.
Responding to a lawmaker's question, Yoon said the Seoul government doesn't doubt the North has nuclear weapons, according to Yonhap.
"North Korea is now estimated to have one or two" nuclear weapons, Yoon was quoted as saying.
North Korea has claimed it has nuclear weapons, but it is not known if the isolated country has performed any tests confirming its claims. Many experts believe the North has enough radioactive material to build at least half a dozen nuclear weapons.
Concerns about a test flared anew after American media reported last week, citing U.S. officials, that suspicious activity was observed at a suspected underground nuclear site in the North.
The United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea have tried to convince the North to abandon its nuclear program at six-party negotiations that have been on hold since November.
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