North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities

RUSI is part of a consortium utilising novel research methods and advances in remote sensing technologies to analyse North Korea’s WMD capabilities and inform robust policy recommendations., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In partnership with the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), RUSI is engaged in a multi-year effort that employs novel methodologies and utilises advances in remote sensing technologies to assess and model various scenarios for North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

The project seeks to build a credible picture of the country’s nuclear capabilities and, in turn, to develop a set of policy tools and verification options tailored to address them. As part of this project, RUSI is taking the lead in conducting a feasibility study into the applicability of open-source research and remote sensing in the context of North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons capability., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Aims and objectives

A core aim of this project is to develop data-driven approaches to address the enduring challenge of denuclearisation and associated verification requirements in North Korea. A key sticking point in negotiating limits to North Korea’s nuclear weapons is agreement on the verification measures necessary to provide assurance that the country remains in compliance with its obligations.

By developing a comprehensive set of plausible scenarios for North Korea’s nuclear fuel cycle, the flow of material for weapons and broader weapons-related activities, the project will be able to analyse and recommend alternative approaches for limiting North Korea’s nuclear weapons and provide innovative options for verification. Furthermore, by using only open-source information, this project will create an interrogatable data set that can be used by governmental and non-governmental stakeholders alike.

In addition to analysis relating to nuclear weapons, this project also aims to assess the applicability and value of such an approach, based on open-source research and remote sensing technologies, for enhancing our understanding of chemical and biological weapons capabilities in North Korea.


  • Government of Canada

    Global Affairs Canada define, shape and advance Canada’s interests and values in a complex global environment. We manage diplomatic relations, promote international trade and provide consular support. We lead international development, humanitarian, and peace and security assistance efforts. We also contribute to national security and the development of international law.

    Find out more

Explore related projects

Project Sandstone

Trilateral Nuclear Dialogues

UK Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control Futures