North Korea Responds
North Korea has declared it will weaponise all its plutonium stocks and threatened military action against the United States and its allies after the UN security council imposed new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for last month’s underground nuclear test.
A spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry today acknowledged for the first time that North Korea is developing a uranium enrichment programme and said it would be “impossible” to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
In a defiant statement, the spokesman said that “the whole amount of the newly extracted plutonium [in the country] will be weaponised” and that “more than one-third of the spent fuel rods has been reprocessed to date”.
The ministry said the country had successfully started a programme to enrich uranium for a light-water reactor.
The regime is believed to have enough plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs. It has around 8,000 spent fuel rods that if reprocessed could allow the country to harvest 6-8kg of plutonium — enough for at least one nuclear bomb, according to analysts.
Imagine what North Korea can do if it doesn’t have one hand tied behind its back! That would leave one hand free with which to do weapons development.
I don’t mean to scoff at the threat that North Korea poses to peace in its region and U. S. interests there or even, possibly, elsewhere if it manages to export its small production of nuclear weapons. That’s a real threat and why interdiction is so important. What I’m scoffing at is the idea that the North Koreans have shown restraint so far. It’s difficult for a threat to have much force if we already believe they’re doing what they’re threatening to do.
I hope the interdiction policy extends to ships going to North Korea as well. With Iran proceeding in its pursuit of the “peaceful use of atomic energy”, the interactions between Iran’s and North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs, and North Korea’s demonstrated nuclear weapons program, Iran’s possession of a complete domestic nuclear fuel cycle becomes more problematic.