The figures, sounded by Chinese nuclear experts during a closed meeting with US colleagues, exceed previous US estimations ranging from 10 to 16 nuclear bombs, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing sources briefed on the issue.
"They [Chinese experts] believe on the basis of what they've put together now that the North Koreans have enough enriched uranium capacity to be able to make eight to 10 bombs' worth of highly enriched uranium per year," Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who attended the meeting in February, said as quoted by the newspaper.
Earlier this month, head of US Northern Command Admiral William Gortney told reporters that North Korea may be capable of placing a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile that could reach the United States.
North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and has conducted a series of underground nuclear weapon tests in the subsequent years. Pyongyang's nuclear program has triggered protests from the international community.