Ask a North Korean: what do you think about nuclear weapons? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/ask-a-north-korean-nuclear-weapons
In an ongoing series, NK News poses a reader’s question to a North Korean defector. This week, pride in the government’s atomic exploration, Guardian, Je Son Lee for NK News, part of the North Korea network
Friday 23 October 2015 When I was still living in North Korea, the regime had a successful nuclear test. People were very proud of it, and afterwards we had a town hall meeting where my neighbours talked about how the US would no longer be able to boss us around.
Most North Koreans are very aware of the fact that other countries make fun of them, and look down on the DPRK, but many think it’s because the country is poor.
North Koreans are generally very curious about how they are perceived internationally, and reports are circulated among communities of discrimination and abuse suffered abroad – such as in China – which generate a feeling of self-consciousness.
Therefore, people in the DPRK have become very proud when they hear that the country has become a nuclear state. When they hear news like this, they think: “Our nation may still be poor. But we can [still] be one of the most powerful and influential nations in national defence.”
North Korea invests heavily in education, especially in teaching people about Japanese imperial rule and the era following independence.
The Japanese committed atrocities against unarmed, innocent Koreans, and Kim Jong-un’s government frequently highlights these acts of brutality when it justifie the possession of nuclear weapons.
Thanks to frequent reminders in school textbooks and history classes, North Koreans show more hostility toward Japanese than Americans.
Pictures and graffiti of Japanese and American soldiers committing acts of violence are painted on the buildings of kindergartens, schools and offices. If you had grown up being brainwashed and exposed to this from a young age, how would you feel? North Koreans begin to realise the importance of protecting their country.
This justifies the nuclear programme and weapons, but the government doesn’t teach its people about the negative sides and ordinary citizens have no way of finding out how dangerous they can be.
Of course, some North Koreans may hold different opinions on this issue. But from what I’ve seen, North Koreans are in favour of their government’s nuclear programme for one reason: they think it will protect them from powerful countries such as the US and Japan, and means they won’t have to go back to the time when Koreans had to suffer under the US military and Japanese imperialism.
Editing and translation by Elizabeth Jae. A version of this article first appeared on NK News, North Korea News
Seoul says North Korea preparing for nuclear test http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/10/20/seoul-says-north-korea-preparing-for-nuclear-test.html The South Korean spy agency says its assessment is based on the monitoring of activities at North Korea’s main Nyongbyon nuclear complex. By: The Associated Press, Published on Tue Oct 20 2015
The office of lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said the National Intelligence Service made the assessment after monitoring activities at North Korea’s main Nyongbyon nuclear complex.
Lee and another lawmaker, Shin Kyung-min, said the spy agency didn’t say how it obtained the information. Shin said it also didn’t elaborate on what test preparations meant. The spy agency’s public affairs office said it could not confirm the reported assessment.
Last month, North Korea said it had upgraded and restarted all of its atomic fuel plants, sparking speculation that it might carry out a fourth nuclear test explosion.
The speculation subsided after North Korea did not go ahead with a threat to conduct a banned long-range rocket launch to send what it called a satellite into orbit earlier this month. All of North Korea’s three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 came after it launched long-range rockets.
A fourth test could put North Korea a step closer to its goal of building a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile that could threaten the United States. North Korea says it has already manufactured such a warhead, but many foreign analysts are skeptical of its claim.
Energy sector cooperation with the DPRK in support of a regional Nuclear Weapons Free Zone NAPSNet Special Report David von Hippel and Peter Hayes,, NAPSNet Special Reports, September 21, 2015, http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/energy-sector-cooperation-with-the-dprk-in-support-of-a-regional-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/
In this paper, we describe the DPRK energy economy, including a description of recent trends in DPRK energy supply and demand. We then summarize the DPRK’s energy security situation and energy sector needs, along with a brief description of potential regional/international cooperation options for providing energy sector development assistance to DPRK. These options include conventional energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. They are followed with more general approaches to engagement and an example “package” of cooperation measures. These non-nuclear options are benchmarked to a quantitative estimate of the net present value of the two light water reactors that were to be provided in the US-DPRK Agreed Framework but never completed, as a reasonable benchmark, followed by a review of the DPRK nuclear energy sector and related potential cooperation options and issues related to the DPRK domestic pilot light water reactor and enrichment programs. We conclude by highlighting key insights and opportunities for increasing the DPRK’s energy security in the context of regional energy development in which all states have a stake……….http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/energy-sector-cooperation-with-the-dprk-in-support-of-a-regional-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/
Russia Rejects North Korea To Be Recognized As Nuclear State, Value Walk, By: Polina Tikhonova September 27, 2015 Russia does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state while openly opposing Pyongyang’s nuclear program, according to top Russia’s envoy in South Korea Alexander Timonin. Speaking at a forum marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Russia, Alexander Timonin said the Kremlin will never justify North Korea’s nuclear missiles nor its nuclear program.
Timonin noted that if North Korea wants to claim the right as a sovereign state to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-un first needs to uphold his father’s pledges made on September 19, 2005 under the Joint Statement to abandon the nuclear program as well as comply with UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from launching long-range missiles.
Timonin also noted that the Kremlin has repeatedly notified North Korean leadership of its stance over Pyongyang’s nuclear program during many diplomatic events.
North Korea is not the only Korea Russia is concerned about. Timonin also expressed Moscow’s concern over possible delivery of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
He warned that Russia and China will have to respond for the sake of their own security in case a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery is delivered to South Korea.
Pyongyang and Moscow have significantly strengthened bilateral ties in the past year, with Russian foreign ministry calling 2015 the ‘Year of Friendship’ with North Korea. However, Kim Jong-un declined to attend Moscow’s Victory Day Parade in May, and has not had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin yet.
Russia is watching North Korea’s nuclear program closely
It doesn’t seem like a ‘Year of Friendship’ at all, considering the latest non-supportive concerns expressed by Russian foreign ministry toward North Korea’s plans to resume nuclear operations and launch missiles announced on Tuesday.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin has been “paying attention” and monitoring the situation ever since North Korea announced plans to launch a missile and resume activities at its Yongbyon nuclear site.
“Russia expresses its concern regarding North Korea’s continued pursuit of rocket launches and nuclear weapons production, activities that have been prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Zakharova said, as reported by Yonhap……..http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/09/russia-rejects-north-korea-as-nuclear-state/
The right lessons to take from North Korea’s nuclear belligerence are that nuclear weapons threaten the security of all nations, even those that possess them, and that nuclear double standards are a recipe for proliferation, not disarmament. Continuing to point nuclear weapons at North Korea while asking them not to point them back obviously won’t work.
For biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, a clear treaty prohibition paved the way for their progressive elimination. Establishing a clear moral, political and legal norm against these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons has drastically reduced their use and influenced even countries not signed up to the relevant treaty. Yet the nuclear-armed states show no intent of fulfilling their legally binding obligation to disarm.
Indeed, all are investing massively in modernising their nuclear arsenals. That is why states without the weapons need to take the lead and start negotiations that are open to all states but blockable by none, for a global treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons and provide for their verifiable elimination from the arsenals of all nations
If we can’t stop an impoverished nation like North Korea making nuclear weapons, our
tactics are clearly wrong The Conversation, Tilman Ruff Associate Professor, International Education and Learning Unit, Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, 24 Sept 15 The timing of North Korea’s announcement last week that it has resumed “normal operation” of its Yongbyon nuclear reactor – along with a reaffirmation of its belligerent rhetoric against the United States – might be interpreted simply as a response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s current US state visit.
But that is not to say that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Continue reading
Why North Korea’s Latest Nuclear Threats Are Like Groundhog Day All Over Again An expert explains why we’ve been here before, and how to break the cycle. Charlotte Alfred World Reporter, The Huffington Post , 19 Sept 15 North Korean officials sent a defiant message to the world over their nuclear and missile programs this week, as the reclusive regime gears up to celebrate the ruling party’s 70th anniversary.
The head of Pyongyang’s space agency said on Monday it was preparing to send a new earth observation satellite into space on a long-range rocket. The U.S. has warned this would violate United Nations resolutions against Pyongyang conducting ballistic missile tests, because of the similarity of the technology involved. Meanwhile, analysts and South Korean officials are skeptical of the announcement, saying there is little sign that Pyongyang is readying a satellite launch.
A day later, the director of North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute announced that the country’s main Nyongbyon nuclear complex was fully operational again and reiterated threats to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. The complex was closed in 2007 during six-party talks with the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and South Korea. But the talks collapsed, and North Korea said in 2013 that it would resume nuclear enrichment. Tuesday’s announcement accords with recent analysis by 38 North, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University, which concluded, based on satellite imagery, that North Korea is “expanding its capacity to mine and mill natural uranium.”
The WorldPost spoke to Chad O’Carroll, the founder of specialist news and media service NK News, about what’s behind the latest warning signs from Pyongyang.
Did North Korea’s announcements this week about the rocket launches and nuclear reactivation come out of the blue?
The statement about the satellite launch did not come out of the blue. North Korea has made at least two or three announcements this year about upcoming satellite launches, leading many analysts to suggest that there will likely be a satellite launch to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the ruling party. This has been a narrative building up to those events.
The nuclear announcement did not necessarily come out of the blue either. Pyongyang had already announced that they would reactivate the nuclear processing plant, and that’s been underway for a while. This week’s statement was potentially triggered by 38 North recently publishing satellite imagery that shows activity at the Nyongbyon nuclear complex. The North Korean media may be responding to that, amid the general build-up to the Oct. 10 anniversary.
What do we know about the current state of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and how concerned should the world be about them?
The technology for long-range ballistic missiles has not been fully mastered yet. It takes North Korea several weeks, if not months, to set up a satellite launch. So this is not much of a military threat because that’s a long window of time for the U.S. to take that threat out.
The real threat is two-fold: usage of short-range to medium-range ballistic missiles — which North Korea has a lot of and have been proven to work — and low-end applications of nuclear technology. The problem is that as long as the status quo continues, the better North Korea’s technology becomes. Five or six years ago, no one would have thought that in 2015 North Korea would be showcasing submarine technology to launch ballistic missiles………
We have seen that the way that world leaders are currently responding to North Korea leads to Groundhog Day: complaints to the U.N., limited sanctions on North Korea, complaints from Pyongyang that it has been unfairly singled out, followed by further tensions and a new nuclear test, and then we’re back where we started.
Understandably, democratically elected leaders need to be seen to be responding to things, but having seen the cycle repeat itself so many times, it seems that there does need to be some fresh thinking. And there are only really two options on the table: one is military — and there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for that — and the other is of a different diplomatic response.
If you want to reduce the threat that North Korea’s weapons pose, the best solution is some kind of settlement and diplomatic agreement. Unfortunately, everything seems very far away in that regard right now. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/north-korea-nuclear-weapons_55facf48e4b0fde8b0cd2596?section=australia&adsSiteOverride=au
US threatens North Korea with ‘severe consequences’ if it flouts nuclear ban Guardian, 18 Sept 15
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, says his country’s position is clear: ‘We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state’ North Korea would face “severe consequences” if it continued with its announced decision to restart a nuclear reactor, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, has said.
Pyongyang has said it is restarting the long-mothballed Yongbyon reactor, which is capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, and has threatened to launch a rocket, a move seen internationally as a test of ballistic missile technology.
Asked whether Washington could respond credibly to North Korea after striking a deal to allow Iran’s nuclear program to continue, Kerry insisted it could.
“There will be severe consequences as we go forward if North Korea does not refrain from its irresponsible provocations that aggravate regional concerns, make the region less safe, and if it refuses to live up to its international obligations,” he said.
“Our position is clear: we will not accept a DPRK – North Korea – as a nuclear weapons state, just as we said that about Iran.”
Asked what the US could do if North Korea continued to flout bans on its nuclear and missile programs, Kerry said Kim Jong-un’s regime was already experiencing growing diplomatic isolation………
North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament accord but began renovating it after its latest nuclear test in 2013.
When fully operational the reactor is capable of producing about 6kg (13lb) of plutonium a year – enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/17/us-threatens-north-korea-with-severe-consequences-if-it-flouts-nuclear-ban
North Korea’s renewed nuclear threat keeps experts guessing, Guardian, Julian Borger, 15 Sept 15
Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons complex relaunch seen as sabre rattling – or the prerequisite for another nuclear test. North Korea’s announcement that it had revamped and relaunched its nuclear weapons complex a day after threatening new launches is meant to signal a renewed determination to build long-range nuclear missiles.
The statement on state media on Tuesday warned that US hostility would be met with “nuclear weapons at any time”. However, while many anticipate that the regime will try to launch a satellite with long-range missile technology on 10 October to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers party, few are less certain on how significant the announcement really is.
One western expert described it as being of little practical importance since it could be seen as no more than a morale-boosting exercise for the regime, while another said it could presage a fourth nuclear test by the Pyongyang regime. The North Korean nuclear complex at Yongbyon contains a 5 megawatt reactor, capable of producing plutonium as a byproduct, and a newly extended plant for enriching uranium. Both have the capacity for producing weapons-grade fissile material for a bomb, and the announcement, attributed to the director of the nation’s atomic energy institute, said that both had been “rearranged, changed or readjusted and they started normal operation”.
David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said that trying to estimate what is really going on in Yongbyon from satellite imagery can be a guessing game.
“There is heat coming from the enrichment plant, but that’s not direct evidence that it is functioning. They could just have the heat on,” he said.
He added: “We will have to wait to see if there are signs of normal operation. We could see water being discharged and steam coming off the turbine.”
Albright said that although there were signs that the North Koreans had not been able to get the reactor to work at full capacity, it was still capable of producing three to four kilograms of plutonium a year, once the spent fuel had been reprocessed – enough for a single warhead. He added that it is likely the regime had mastered the science of making warheads small enough to put on missiles…….. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/north-koreas-renewed-nuclear-threat-keeps-experts-guessing
The world can’t ignore North Korea’s nuclear progression WP, By Editorial Board August 17 CHARTING THE course of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program has always required painstaking detective work. Because the country is so closed to outsiders, hints have been drawn from sources such as atmospheric samples, seismic data and satellite photographs. A new building or roof on an industrial factory has often pointed to activity inside. North Korea once gave a visiting American scientist an eyeful: a sprawling array of new uranium enrichment centrifuges that hadn’t been detected previously.
This is why there are serious worries about uranium mining and milling in North Korea as described in a new report from Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Analyzing satellite photographs and other information, Mr. Lewis has published evidence on the Web site 38 North, which is run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, that North Korea is “expanding its capacity to mine and mill natural uranium.” The information doesn’t confirm what the uranium is to be used for; it might be for nuclear power reactors, or it might be for nuclear weapons. Mr. Lewis found evidence of “significant refurbishment” at a uranium concentration plant at Pyongsan that turns ore into yellowcake. Pyongsan is the most important uranium mine and mill in the country.
This new hint comes on top of an earlier report this year from the same institute that suggested North Korea is moving toward a bigger, better nuclear arsenal that could put it on par with Pakistan and Israel. …….https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-world-cant-ignore-north-koreas-nuclear-progression/2015/08/17/6e74a664-42ca-11e5-8e7d-9c033e6745d8_story.html
any opportunity for a preemptive strike against the North’s nuclear sites has been lost, for fear it would prompt an attack on Seoul and other parts of the South. Now, the threat of destruction raining down on the northern parts of South Korea is too high a price. Consequently, the only option remaining is diplomacy.
The art of North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship, Guardian, Robert E McCoy for NK News, part of the North Korea network, 29 May 15 A string of recent missile launches may have been faked, but the country is a nuclear power that requires diplomatic engagement argues Robert E McCoy
North Korea’s press office announced earlier this month that Kim Jong-un had personally supervised the firing of a new submarine-based missile.
The news was soon followed by more footage from state media claiming to evidence another ballistic missile launch, but experts have since voiced doubts over the authenticity of the images.
But these stories are just the latest steps in a routine North Korea has long been playing with the west.
Despite often engaging in deals and agreements with western powers hoping to halt its nuclear proliferation, this “dance” of negotiations has so far failed to halt the DPRK’s military development…………….
Perhaps it’s time for diplomacy to try a different tack?
The routine begins
Troubles with North Korea began in 1989 when it was first suspected of developing a nuclear bomb, despite having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty just three years earlier……………
events reveal a pattern, and suggests that North Korea has developed a tried-and-tested formula to outwit western powers for over 25 years.
It has done so using a modus operandi we’ll call “the dance”, which follows these eight steps:
Step 1: North Korea wants or needs something, most often food or petroleum.
Step 2: North Korea generates tension and gains international attention.
Step 3: Countries initially ignore the activity and attribute it to North Korea merely “acting up”.
Step 4: North Korea increases tension through increasingly violent acts or extreme rhetoric.
Step 5: The world finally pays attention and agrees to discuss a resolution.
Step 6: North Korea agrees to stop its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for what it needs or wants: food, petroleum or other aid.
Step 7: Once the aid is received, North Korea soon finds – or invents – a way to justify breaking its commitment.
Step 8: Repeat…………….. Continue reading
THE US TRIED TO STUXNET NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM KIM ZETTER Wired, 05.29.15 A PRECISION DIGITAL weapon reportedly created by the US and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program had a fraternal twin that was designed to attack North Korea’s nuclear program as well, according to a new report.
The second weapon was crafted at the same time Stuxnet was created and was designed to activate once it encountered Korean-language settings on machines with the right configuration, according to Reuters. But the operation ultimately failed because the attackers were unable to get the weapon onto machines that were running Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
WIRED reported back in 2010 that such an operation against North Korea would be possible in light of the fact that some of the equipment used by the North Koreans to control their centrifuges—the devices used to turn uranium hexafluoride gas into nuclear-bomb-ready fuel—appeared to have come from the same firms that outfitted the Iranian nuclear program………
While the plan worked beautifully in Iran, it ultimately hit a snafu against North Korea where the nuclear program is even more tightly controlled than Iran’s and where few computers—belonging to contractors or anyone else—are online and accessible via the internet.
As WIRED reported in 2010, “someone would have to infiltrate the Hermit Kingdom’s most sensitive sites and introduce the worm into the command systems, a hard bargain to say the least. In other words, don’t go thinking the United States or an ally could magically infect North Korea with Stuxnet. But if more information emerges about the North’s command systems, that might provide fodder for a copycat worm—provided someone could introduce it into Yongbyon.” http://www.wired.com/2015/05/us-tried-stuxnet-north-koreas-nuclear-program/
North Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons WP By Anna Fifield May 20 TOKYO — North Korea claimed Wednesday that it has been able to make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile — a development that, if verified, would mark a major advance in the country’s military capabilities and the threat it can pose to the world.
Pyongyang has a habit of exaggerating its technical abilities, and the latest assertion comes amid widespread doubts about its purported test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile this month.
But Kim Jong Un’s regime is known to have been working simultaneously on a nuclear weapons program and missile technology, and analysts widely believe that it is just a matter of time until North Korea puts the two together through “miniaturization.”
The North’s National Defense Commission, or NDC — its top military authority, chaired by Kim — said it was able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile, designed to be fired at the mainland United States.
“It is long since [North Korea’s] nuclear striking means have entered the stage of producing smaller nukes and diversifying them,” a spokesman for the NDC said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency………http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pyongyang-says-it-has-technology-to-make-small-submarined-mounted-nuclear-warheads/2015/05/20/0e96d0bc-fec0-11e4-833c-a2de05b6b2a4_story.html
North Korea ‘not even close’ to meeting standards on nuclear weapons, says Kerry, Guardian, 28 May 15
Secretary of state says US is talking to China about boosting sanctions and highlights ‘grotesque’ public executions on whim of leader Kim Jong-un The US is talking to China about imposing further sanctions against North Koreaas the reclusive country is “not even close” to taking steps to rein in its nuclear weapons programme, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, has said.
Speaking on Monday in the South Korean capital, Kerry said Washington continued to offer North Korea the chance for an improved relationship in return for signs of a genuine willingness to end its nuclear programme.
“To date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is not even close to meeting that standard,” Kerry told a joint news conference with the South Korean foreign minister, Yun Byung-se. “Instead it continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.”
North Korea is already under heavy US and UN sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests but Kerry said further penalties were being considered…….http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/18/north-korea-may-face-further-sanctions-john-kerry-indicates
Report: Nuclear North Korea successfully tests a submarine-launched missile HOT AIR, MAY 10, 2015 BY NOAH ROTHMAN Over the weekend, North Korea announced that it had successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile. That announcement was accompanied with a series of photographs of the launch, and Kim Jong-un beaming into the camera as he reflected on his country’s achievement. It’s never wise to give the North Korean’s any more credibility than they deserve. While there has not yet been independent confirmation of the launch, no American officials or members of the intelligence community have called the veracity of the DPRK’s claim into question either.
The test launch represents a violation of United Nations sanctions banning North Korea from developing and using advanced ballistic missile technology, but so does Pyongyang’s decision to manufacture and test at least three fissionable devices. It should be clear to anyone but a diplomat that the 12-year-long on-again, off-again diplomatic process aimed at preventing North Korea from becoming a significant nuclear power has failed.
As of 2013, officials estimated that Pyongyang possesses enough weapons-grade plutonium for between six and 10 bombs. On at least three occasions, the secretive communist country has conducted underground nuclear tests. It remains, however, unclear whether those were plutonium or uranium devices, the latter being more difficult to produce………
It is too late to prevent the DPRK from serving as the foremost exporter of nuclear technology to the globe’s worst actors, but there is still time to prevent a much more volatile region of the world – the Middle East – from rolling the atomic dice. Unfortunately for future generations, today’s Western leaders do not seem predisposed to do the hard work of preventing a nuclear arms race in the Arab world. http://hotair.com/archives/2015/05/10/nuclear-north-korea-successfully-tests-a-submarine-launched-missile/
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……http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/23/china-warns-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal-is-expanding-report-says
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