North Korea has squandered somewhere between US$1.1 and $1.6 billion developing nuclear weapons over the past 50 years, according to recent calculations. It will likely cost the regime another $160 million to conduct another nuclear test. According to data from the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, the North has spent up to $1.6 billion developing nuclear weapons, including six nuclear tests since the 1970s. It spent $600 to $700 million building a uranium refinery in Pyongsan, nuclear fuel manufacturing and fuel rod reprocessing facilities, a nuclear reactor and a light-water reactor at Yongbyon, and $200 to $400 million making centrifuges and building a uranium enrichment facility.
KIDA estimates that the $1.6 billion the regime has squandered would have been enough to buy 1.41 to 2.05 million tons of rice or 2.82 to 4.1 million tons of corn. This is equivalent to four years' worth of food for the entire North Korean population given that the North is 860,000 tons of food short this year alone, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The regime is expected to conduct three or four more nuclear tests in the future. Each test is estimated at $110 to $160 million, bringing the total cost to $440 to $640 million.