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Less than one aircraft carrier? The cost of North Korea’s nukes


This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 30, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

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This undated photo released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 30, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting a test-fire of a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

When North Korea decided to go nuclear, it committed to a huge investment in a program that would bring severe sanctions and eat up precious resources that could have been spent boosting the nation’s quality of life.

Money well spent?

Leader Kim Jong Un seems to think so.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs have without doubt come at a high cost, but the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and — as demonstrated by its July 4 test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile — the United States’ mainland.

Good, solid figures for just about anything in North Korea are hard to find. So what follows should be taken as ballpark guesses, at best.

But here’s a look at how much that arsenal might cost Pyongyang, and why Kim might think that’s the price he must pay to survive.

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