The North Korean Nuclear Threat

1187 Words 5 Pages
Since its origin in 1948, North Korea has been isolated and heavily armed, with hostile relations with South Korea and Western countries. It has developed a capability to produce short- and medium-range missiles, chemical weapons, and possibly biological and nuclear weapons. In December 2002, Pyongyang lifted the freeze on its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program and expelled IAEA inspectors who had been monitoring the freeze under the Agreed Framework of October 1994. As the Bush administration was arguing its case at the United Nations for disarming Iraq, the world has been hit with alarming news of a more menacing threat: North Korea has an advanced nuclear weapons program that, U.S. officials believe, has already produced one or …show more content…
There is no reason, however, to believe that this allegation is true. North Korea established a nuclear energy research complex at Yongbyon in 1964 and set up a Soviet research reactor at the site in 1965. North Korea subsequently expanded the complex and built a number of new facilities, including a large plutonium reprocessing plant (Radiochemistry Laboratory). North Korea signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1985 but did not submit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections until May 1992. Discrepancies between North Korean declarations and IAEA inspection findings indicate that North Korea might have reprocessed enough plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons. According to a December 2001 National Intelligence Council report, the U.S. intelligence community ascertained in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons. In mid-2002, U.S. intelligence discovered that North Korea had been receiving materials from Pakistan for a highly enriched uranium production facility. In October 2002, the U.S. State Department informed North Korea that the U.S. was aware of this program, which is a violation of Pyongyang’s nonproliferation commitments. North Korean officials initially denied the existence of such a program, but then acknowledged its existence. On 10 January 2003, North Korea declared its withdrawal from the NPT.
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