The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China concerned at the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal

China warns North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is expanding, report says, Guardian, 23 Apr 15 
Chinese experts believe their communist ally may already have an arsenal of 20 warheads and the enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year. 
Chinese nuclear experts believe North Korea may already have a nuclear arsenal of 20 warheads and the uranium enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The estimate, which the Journal said was relayed to US nuclear specialists in a closed-door meeting in February, is significantly higher than any previously known Chinese assessment.

It also exceeds recent estimates by US experts which put the North’s current arsenal at between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons.

A leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear programme, Siegfried Hecker, who attended the February meeting, said a sizeable North Korean stockpile would only compound the challenge the international community faces in persuading Pyongyang to decommission the weapons.

“The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that,” Hecker told the Journal.

The Chinese estimate reflects growing concern in Beijing about the nuclear ambitions of its errant ally, and is the latest in a series of expert assessments that suggest Pyongyang is moving faster down the nuclear path than previously thought.

A recent report by US researchers warned that North Korea appeared poised to expand its nuclear program over the next five years and, in a worst case scenario, could possess 100 atomic arms by 2020……

April 25, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea claims to be nuclear missile ready

North Korea says can fire nuclear missile at ‘any time’ (Reuters)  19 Mar 15 – North Korea has the ability to fire a nuclear weapon and would use a nuclear missile in retaliation if it is attacked, the country’s ambassador to Britain told Sky News on Friday.

“It is not the United States that has a monopoly on nuclear weapons strikes,” Ambassador Hyun Hak-bong told Sky at the isolated Asian country’s London embassy.

Asked if that meant North Korea, which quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993, had the capability to fire a nuclear missile now, he replied: “Any time, any time, yes.”

“If the United States strike us, we should strike back. We are ready for conventional war with conventional war, we are ready for nuclear war with nuclear war. We do not want war but we are not afraid of war,” he added.

In a speech on March 3, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said his country had the power to deter an “ever-increasing nuclear threat” by the United States with a pre-emptive strike if necessary.

He also denounced military exercises staged by South Korea and the United States as provocative. The United States has said it is seriously concerned about North Korea’s nuclear work, which it says breaches international agreements.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear detonations, the most recent in February 2013, and the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said in October he believed Pyongyang had the capability to build a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on a ballistic missile, although there had been no tests or other evidence to show it had taken that step.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons expansion in North Korea

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea’s Nuclear Expansion, NYT By FEB. 27, 2015 North Korea could be on track to have an arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020, according to a new research report. The prediction, from experts on North Korea, goes well beyond past estimates and should force renewed attention on a threat that has been eclipsed by other crises.

At the moment, the United States and five other major powers are negotiating an agreement that would constrain the nuclear program in Iran, which does not possess any nuclear weapons. North Korea, on the other hand, is estimated to have already produced 10 to 16 weapons since 2003.

The new assessment comes from Joel Wit, a former American negotiator with North Korea who is now a senior fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security. They conclude that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been growing since 2009 and are now “poised for significant expansion over the next five years.” That poses serious threats for other countries in Asia and for the United States.

Details about the programs are hard to come by given North Korea’s closed system. As a result, the researchers have outlined possible scenarios for the next five years, ranging from 20 nuclear weapons to 100, which would put North Korea on a par with India, Pakistan and Israel. Independently, China has also estimated the program to be capable of producing the higher range of weapons, another expert on North Korea told The Times.

North Korea already has 1,000 ballistic missiles including the medium-range land-based Nodong missile, which is mobile and accurate enough to attack cities, ports and military bases in Japan and South Korea. The country may also possess limited long-range missiles that can reach targets in the United States, the report said. It has also succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear weapons so they can fit on both medium-range and long-range missiles………….

February 28, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear meeting between USA and North Korea

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea, US have nuclear meeting, SBS News, 18 jan 15 
 North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator has met with US academics and former senior officials in Singapore. US academics and former senior officials have met with North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator in Singapore.

The meeting was set to get a feel for each other’s positions amid a years-long standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons buildup. Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, a US-based nonprofit, told reporters that the meeting will cover the North’s nuclear missile programs.

He said “it’s two ways of taking each other’s temperature.”

The US and North Korea have no formal diplomatic ties, but former US officials occasionally meet the North’s diplomats in a bid to settle the impasse over Pyongyang’s pursuit of a long-range nuclear-armed missile that could hit the US mainland. North Korea’s team was led by Ri Yong Ho, the chief negotiator for six-party denuclearisation talks……

January 19, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear deal offer to USA

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-S-KoreaNorth Korea Offers U.S. Deal to Halt Nuclear Test, NYT By JAN. 10, 2015 SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Saturday that it had told the United States that it would impose a temporary moratorium on nuclear tests if Washington canceled its joint annual military exercises with South Korea to help promote dialogue on the divided Korean Peninsula.

The North proposed its “crucial step” in a message it delivered to the United States on Friday through an unspecified channel, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. In the past, North Korea has relayed messages to Washington through its United Nations mission in New York.

Until now, the United States has dismissed North Korea’s routine demand for an end to its joint military exercises with South Korea. The North has called them a rehearsal for an invasion while the United States and South Korea have insisted that their annual war games are defensive in nature.

But the North’s latest proposal included a new incentive for Washington, offering to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in return for a suspension of the joint military exercises this year.

The North’s overture followed the New Year’s Day speech of its leader, Kim Jong-un, in which he said he was ready to meet with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea if “the mood was right.” Mr. Kim said the two Koreas should mark their 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonial rule this year with great strides toward inter-Korean reconciliation. North Korea has since significantly toned down its habitually harsh language when referring to South Korea…….

The United States on Saturday rebuffed the North Korean proposal……..

January 12, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea nvesting in miniaturising nuclear warheads

boys-with-toysflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea ‘close to miniaturising nuclear warheads’, Telegraph UK, 6 Jan 15 South Korea believes Pyongyang’s scientists close to making the regime’s missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads North Korea has achieved “a significant level” of the technology required to miniaturise nuclear warheads in order to mount them on ballistic missiles, according to South Korea’s ministry of defence.

In a white paper released on Tuesday, the ministry added that North Korea is believed to have obtained more than 88lbs of weapons-grade plutonium by repeatedly reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods.

Additional efforts are also being made to produce highly-enriched uranium, the report stated.

An official of the ministry told Yonhap News that there was no solid evidence that North Korean scientists have perfected the technique of miniaturising a nuclear warhead, but the North is known to have invested heavily in the process………

January 7, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Declassified report on North Korea’s plans to attack USA nuclear power plants

terrorism-targets-2DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks on US Nuclear Plants, Washington Free Beacon 18 Dec 14    Five commando units trained for strikes, sabotage  North Korea dispatched covert commando teams to the United States in the 1990s to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in a conflict, according to a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report. The DIA report, dated Sept. 13, 2004, reveals that five units of covert commandos were trained for the attacks inside the country.

According to the report, the “Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea, had agents in place to attack American nuclear power plants.”

The document states that the North Korean Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, the ministry in charge of the military, “established five liaison offices in the early 1990s, to train and infiltrate operatives into the United States to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in case of hostilities.”…….

Disclosure of the report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid threats by presumed North Korean agents to conduct September 11-style terrorist attacks against U.S. movie theaters……….

December 19, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Chinese government not happy with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program

flag-Chinaflag-N-KoreaCHINA-NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR STANDOFF  Eurasia Review By Debalina Ghoshal Even though North Korea and China have traditionally shared strong ties, their “key divergence” lies in Pyongyang’s nuclear program. China is an important ally for North Korea, but despite this, China has not reacted positively to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. China is keen on the denuclearization of Northeast Asia, and hence views North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as an obstacle to achieving this goal. North Korea, on the other hand, views its nuclear program as a “treasure sword” with which it can counter threats from the United States and its ally of South Korea.

The United States and South Korea have realized the importance of Beijing in any matter pertaining to the denuclearization of North East Asia. This was also echoed by US Secretary of State John Kerry when he opined that given its extensive trade relations with North Korea, China has “greater potential” to influence North Korea’s behavior [its nuclear ambitions that is] more than any other power……….

December 15, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Whose finger is now on the nuclear button, in North Korea?

flag-N-KoreaKim Jong-un Disappearance Leads to Nuclear Weapon Concerns Liberty Voice, by Rebecca Savastio on October 10, 2014. Kim Jong-un’s continuing disappearance has led to speculation about whose finger is on the North Korean nuclear weapon arsenal. The Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has not been seen in over a month. Why should the world care? Does it matter to anyone outside of North Korea if he is vacationing, ill, deposed or dead? The fact that North Korea is a nuclear power, though without the capability to launch nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States, makes the tiny communist nation’s stability of interest for everyone…….

Kim did not simply disappear from public view, he has missed some important affairs
……..The true state of politics within North Korea is an impenetrable mystery. It is disconcerting that the world knows so little about a country it fears so much. Given its nuclear capabilities, any change of government needs to be smooth and stable. Many feel that the only scenario worse than a communist dictator who hates America is a rogue element with nothing to lose. Whether orchestrated by Kim or accomplished without his authority, the moves made by the North Korean officials seem to be a small step in the right direction. The world is waiting to see what happens, because Kim Jong-un’s continuing disappearance had led to speculation about whose finger is on the North Korean nuclear arsenal.

October 11, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

North Korea wanting to resume nuclear talks with world powers

North Korea ready to resume talks on its nuclear programme, says UN envoy  No missile tests planned but country must ‘remain ready’, while Kim Jong-un’s illness ‘fabricated rumour’, says So Se Pyong The Guardian, Friday 3 October 2014 North Korea is ready to resume six-party talks on its nuclear programme but must maintain its readiness in the face of joint US-South Korean military exercises, a senior envoy in Geneva said on Thursday.So Se Pyong, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told Reuters that his country was not planning a nuclear or missile test.

In a wide-ranging interview, he said that reports about the ill health of its leader Kim Jong-un were “fabricated rumours” and that it was not clear whether the US was willing to negotiate the release of three detained Americans.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with North Korea’s foreign minister in Moscow on Wednesday that he saw a possibility thatstalled talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme could resume, but it would take time.

“For the six-party talks we are ready, and as far as I think, China and Russia and the DPRK are ready,” So said in the interview in the DPRK’s mission overlooking Lake Geneva.

“But America, they don’t like that kind of talks right now. Because America does not like that, so that’s why the countries like South Korea, Japan also are not ready for those talks.”

North Korea promised to abandon its nuclear programme in 2005 but appeared to renege on the agreement when it tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009………

October 6, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Yongbyon may be restarting

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korean nuclear reactor may be operational, DW 5 Sept 14  A new report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog says North Korea may be operating a reactor at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon. The site has previously been associated with the production of nuclear weapons. In the document seen by news agencies on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had detected signs the reactor in the country’s north was undergoing tests that suggested it was being prepared for a restart.

The agency said it had “observed, through analysis of satellite imagery, steam discharges and the outflow of cooling water” at the reactor since late August 2013, adding that these were “consistent with the reactor’s operation.”

However, the IAEA stopped short of saying the facility was fully operational, as it has had “no access to the five megawatt reactor since April 2009.” The IAEA relies mainly on satellite images in its assessments of North Korea’s nuclear activities because Pyongyang does not allow the agency’s inspectors into the country………

September 6, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

South Korea and China in agreement on threat of North Korea’s nuclear activities

China agrees North Korea’s nuclear activities a serious threat, says South Mon May 26, 2014 SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea and China agreed on Monday that recent nuclear activity by North Korea posed a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region and Pyongyang must not conduct a nuclear test, Seoul said after a meeting of their top diplomats.

Renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site has indicated Pyongyang may be preparing a fourth nuclear test in contravention of U.N. sanctions.

Analysis have suggested the North may be close to miniaturising a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, alarming regional powers that have for two decades tried to rein in Pyongyang’s atomic programme.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his South Korea counterpart Yun Byung-se to discuss the North’s nuclear programme, as well as an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul this year, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

“The two ministers agreed to step up cooperation based on the united position that they object to the North’s nuclear test and that recent nuclear activities by the North pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,” the ministry said.

China, North Korea’s lone major ally, is usually very guarded in its opinion on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, usually expressing its desire for a nuclear-free “Korean peninsula” and careful not to be seen to be taking sides…….

May 27, 2014 Posted by | India, North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea warned by China against conducting 4th nuclear test

China warns North Korea against fourth nuclear test, Australia Network News, 20 May 14   China has used diplomatic channels to warn North Korea against conducting a fourth nuclear test after the reclusive state renewed its threat of “counter-measures” against perceived US hostility.

North Korea, which regularly threatens the South and the United States with destruction, is already under heavy sanctions imposed by several UN resolutions beginning in 2006 but has defied pressure to abandon its missile and nuclear programs.

It last conducted a nuclear test in February 2013.

“China has told North Korea that there is no justification for a new nuclear test and that they should not do it,” a Western diplomat who was briefed by Chinese officials said.

The sources said China had used diplomatic channels in Beijing and Pyongyang to convey its anxiety about the possibility of a fourth test to the North……

May 20, 2014 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Anxiety over potential radiation risks in North Korea’s nuclear site

flag-N-KoreaU.S. think tank says North Korea is having radiation issues at primary nuclear site Raw Story, By Agence France-Presse Monday, April 7, 2014 The United States and its allies warned North Korea against provocations as researchers reported potential radiation risks due to problems at the regime’s main nuclear complex…….

A U.S. think tank, reviewing recent satellite images, said Monday that North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear site appeared to have suffered water supply problems due to heavy rain and floods last summer. An unstable supply could pose radiation risks, especially at North Korea’s first light water reactor, which is near completion, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The regime does not have experience operating the light water reactor and “the rapid loss of water used to cool the reactor could result in a serious safety problem,” analyst Nick Hansen wrote on the institute’s blog, 38 North. North Korea has more experience with its restarted plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon but its “lack of airtight containment could lead to the escape of some radioactivity even in small accidents.” The published analysis comes after South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned that Yongbyon could witness a Chernobyl-style disaster, one of a series of comments that enraged North Korea, whose official media accused her of speaking “nonsense gibberish.” The 38 North analysis downplayed the risks of a Chernobyl-scale disaster, saying Yongbyon was smaller than the Soviet-built station in Ukraine where a 1986 accident killed 30 people in an explosion and another 2,500 afterward in related illnesses. “However, a radioactive release into the atmosphere or river would cause an expanded local area of contamination,” the analysis said. “Also, Pyongyang’s likely lack of transparency could create a regional crisis, panicking the public in surrounding countries and raising tensions with governments anxious for further information.”….

April 9, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

North Korea’s hostile response to South Korea

N Korea Assaults South Leader Over Nuclear Remarks Liberty Voice, by Fern flag-N-KoreaRemedi-Brown on March 29, 2014. South Korea President Park Geun-hye has been on a mission to reunify with North Korea. On March 24 the South Korean leader met at The Hague with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In the meeting, the leaders of the three countries pledged to cooperate vis à vis N Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. In The Hague, Ms. Park gave a speech, warning that the North’s nuclear devices could land in the hands of radical extremists. In response to her remarks, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, verbally assaulted her, likening her to a “peasant woman” who was “blabbering.” He also said she was a pawn in the hands of the U.S. and that she must learn to cease such reckless babble………

March 29, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment


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