The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

If USA does not lift sanctions, North Korea could revive nuclear weapons development

North Korea warns it could revive nuclear development if U.S. does not lift sanctions, Global News, The Associated Press, 3 Nov 18  

The statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Friday evening said North Korea could bring back its “pyongjin” policy of simultaneously advancing its nuclear force and economic development if the United States doesn’t change its stance. The North stopped short of threatening to abandon ongoing nuclear negotiations with Washington.

Still, it accused Washington of derailing commitments made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump at their June summit in Singapore to work toward a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It was the first time the North said it could potentially resume weapons tests and other development activities since Kim signalled a new state policy in April.

In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he plans to talk next week with his North Korean counterpart, apparently referring to senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol. Pompeo did not provide the location and date for the meeting, which will likely be focused on persuading North Korea to take firmer steps toward denuclearization and setting up a second summit between their leaders……


December 8, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

A mistake to expect Kim Jong Un to give a full renunciation of nuclear weapons in advance

Why Insisting on a North Korean Nuclear Declaration Up Front is a Big Mistake, 38 NORTH BY: SIEGFRIED S. HECKER, NOVEMBER 28, 2018,  My reply to the frequently asked question if Kim Jong Un will ever give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons is, “I don’t know, and most likely he doesn’t know either. But it is time to find out.” However, insisting that Kim Jong Un give a full declaration of his nuclear program up front will not work. It will breed more suspicion instead of building the trust necessary for the North to denuclearize, a process that will extend beyond the 2020 US presidential election.

However, the time it will take to get to the endpoint should not obscure the progress that has already been made. Since this spring, Kim Jong Un has taken significant steps to reduce the nuclear threat North Korea poses. He has declared an end to nuclear testing and closed the nuclear test tunnels by setting off explosive charges inside the test tunnel complex. He also declared an end to testing intermediate- and long-range missiles including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). I consider these as two of the most important steps toward reducing the threat North Korea poses and as significant steps on the path to denuclearization.

Whereas the North still poses a nuclear threat to Japan and South Korea as well as US military forces and citizens in the region, the threat to the United States has been markedly reduced. In my opinion, North Korea needs more nuclear and ICBM tests to be able to reach the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile. Freezing the sophistication of the program is a necessary precursor to rolling it back in a step-by-step process.

At the September 2018 inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, Kim also told President Moon that he would commit to dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear complex if the US takes commensurate measures—unspecified, at least in public. The Yongbyon complex is the heart of North Korea’s nuclear program. Shutting it down and dismantling it would be a very big deal because it would stop plutonium and tritium production (for hydrogen bombs) and significantly disrupt highly enriched uranium production.

Yet, Kim’s actions have been widely dismissed as insignificant or insincere by both the left and the right of the American political spectrum. In many of these quarters, the sincerity of Kim’s denuclearization promise is judged by whether or not he is willing to provide a full and complete declaration and to agree on adequate verification measures. But Kim’s willingness to provide a full declaration at this early stage tells us little about his willingness to denuclearize. Moreover, I maintain that insisting on this approach is a dead end, certainly as long as Washington continues to apply “maximum pressure” instead of moving to implement the steps on normalizing relations that President Trump agreed to in the June Singapore statement.

A full declaration is a dead end because it is tantamount to surrender, and Kim has not surrendered, nor will he. A complete account of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities would, in Kim’s view, likely be far too risky in that it would essentially provide a targeting list for US military planners and seal the inevitable end of the nuclear program and possibly his regime.

Furthermore, a declaration must be accompanied by a robust verification protocol. That, in turn, must allow inspections and a full accounting of all past activities such as production and procurement records as well as export activities. And, once all these activities are complete, an inspection protocol must provide assurances that activities that could support a weapons program are not being reconstituted. This would be a contentious and drawn-out affair.

It is inconceivable that the North would declare all of its nuclear weapons, their location, and allow inspections of the weapons or of their disassembly up front. But in addition to the weapons themselves, a nuclear weapon program consists of three interlocking elements: 1) the nuclear bomb fuel, which depending on the type of bomb includes plutonium, highly enriched uranium (HEU), and forms of heavy hydrogen—deuterium and tritium; 2) weaponization—that is, designing, building and testing weapons, and; 3) delivery systems, which in the case of North Korea appear to be missiles, although airplane or ship delivery cannot be ruled out. Each of these elements involves dozens of sites, hundreds of buildings, and several thousand people.

Let me give an example of what is involved just for verification of plutonium inventories and means of production. ………..

It should be apparent that the declaration plus commensurate verification of the amount of plutonium North Korea possesses, which I believe is only between 20 and 40 kilograms, will be an enormous job. I cannot see it being accomplished in the current adversarial environment and certainly not within the timeframe that has been specified by the US government.

A similar sequence of declarations, inspections, and verification measures would have to be developed for the other bomb fuels, namely HEU and the hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium. Verification of HEU inventories and means of production will be particularly contentious because very little is known about the centrifuge facility at the Yongbyon site. As far as we know, my Stanford colleagues and I are the only foreigners to have seen that facility, and then only in a hurried walk-through in 2010. In addition, there exists at least one other covert centrifuge site.

The situation is even more problematic for the second element of the North’s nuclear program, that of weaponization, which includes bomb design, production, and testing because we know nothing about these activities or where they are performed. Although we have some information regarding the nuclear test site at which six nuclear tests were conducted, we do not know if there are other tunnel complexes that have been prepared for testing.

The third element includes all of the North’s missiles and its production, storage and launch sites and complexes. These will also represent a major challenge for complete and correct declarations, inspections and verification.

Once all of the elements have been declared and the dismantling begins, then the focus will have to change to verifying the dismantlement and assessing the potential reversibility of these actions—a challenge that is not only difficult, but one that must be ongoing. ………

At this time, the level of trust between Pyongyang and Washington required for North Korea to agree to a full, verifiable declaration up front does not exist. Hence, my colleagues Robert Carlin and Elliot Serbin and I have suggested a different approach. Negotiations should begin with an agreed end state: North Korea without nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon program. Civilian nuclear and space programs would remain open for negotiation and possible cooperation. But all facilities and activities that have direct nuclear weapons applicability must eventually be eliminated.

Rather than insisting on a full declaration up front, the two sides should first agree to have the North take significant steps that reduce the nuclear threat it poses in return for commensurate movements toward normalization—the details of which would have to be worked out during negotiations. …………

The Trump team claims progress is being made but insists on maintaining maximum pressure. The North’s Foreign Ministry has pointed outthat the “improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible.” Also, most US North Korea watchers are either wedded to old think that you can’t negotiate with Pyongyang or they are determined to prove President Trump’s claims on North Korea wrong.

With nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula dramatically reduced, it is time to find out if Kim’s drive to improve the economy will eventually lead to denuclearization. He may determine that his nuclear arsenal poses a significant hindrance to economic development that outweighs the putative benefits it confers. Washington and Seoul should work together to encourage rather than inhibit this potential shift.

December 1, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo orders South Korea to slow down on being friendly with North Korea

Pompeo to Seoul: Nuclear progress must not lag better Korea ties, REUTERS, November 21, 2018 WASHINGTON--The United States has told its ally South Korea it should not improve ties with North Korea faster than Pyongyang takes steps to give up its nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

Speaking as a working group with South Korea to coordinate North Korean policy held an inaugural meeting in Washington, Pompeo indicated that Washington had been concerned that Seoul had moved too quickly with Pyongyang.

“We have made clear to the Republic of Korea that we do want to make sure that peace on the peninsula and the denuclearization of North Korea aren’t lagging behind the increase in the amount of inter-relationship between the two Koreas,” he told a news briefing………

Last month, in a rare sign of discord between Seoul and Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Pompeo had expressed “discontent” at an inter-Korean military pact reached during a summit in September.

The Koreas also agreed in October to begin reconnecting rail and road links despite U.S. concerns that the rapid North-South thaw could undermine efforts to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

At an unprecedented summit in June, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to work toward denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula and establish new relations.

But negotiations have since made little headway, with Pyongyang upset by Washington’s insistence that international sanctions must remain until it gives up its nuclear weapons.

Last week, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said in Washington it was important to provide North Korea with motivation to denuclearize but that sanctions would stay in place “until we see actual progress on denuclearization.”

November 22, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA | 1 Comment

Mike Pence: North Korea sanctions to remain until denuclearization 

Nov. 13 (UPI)  U.S. Vice President Mike Pence vowed to work toward the complete denuclearization of North Korea and fully enforce sanctions during a joint press conference with Japan’s prime minister on Tuesday.

Pence, who is expected to attend the APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea on Saturday instead of President Donald Trump, said the United States stands firmly against countries that threatened freedom and openness in the region, including North Korea, NHK reported……

Pence told reporters economic sanctions against North Korea will be fully enforced until complete denuclearization, and that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before embargoes are lifted. ….

November 17, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea tests new ‘ultramodern tactical weapon’ amid stalled nuclear diplomacy

It didn’t appear to be a test of a nuclear device or a long-range missile with the potential to target the U.S. NBC News,  Nov. 16, 2018, By Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the successful test of an unspecified “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon,” state media reported Friday.

It didn’t appear to be a test of a nuclear device or a long-range missile with the potential to target the U.S. A string of such tests last year had many fearing war before the North turned to engagement and diplomacy.

Still, any mention of weapons testing could influence the direction of stalled diplomatic efforts spearheaded by Washington and aimed at ridding the North of its nuclear weapons.

The North hasn’t publicly tested any weapons since November 2017, but in recent days Pyongyang reportedly expressed anger at U.S.-led international sanctions and ongoing small-scale military drills between South Korea and the United States.

Earlier this month, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry warned it could bring back its policy of bolstering its nuclear arsenal if it doesn’t receive sanctions relief.

Diplomacy has stalled since a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in June, with Washington pushing for more action on nuclear disarmament and the North insisting that the U.S. first approve a peace declaration formally ending the Korean War and lift sanctions.

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News the U.S. will not require North Korea to provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites before Trump and Kim meet for a second time………

November 17, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea: its nuclear weapons “complete”, but not planning to get rid of them (why should they?)

North Korea not giving up its nuclear weapons any time soon, Chronicle, 12 NOV, 2018 “……..North Korea declared its nuclear force “complete” and halted missile and nuclear bomb testing earlier this year, but U.S. and South Korean negotiators have yet to elicit from Pyongyang a concrete declaration of the size or scope of the weapons programs, or a promise to stop deploying its existing arsenal.

North Korea has said it has closed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the Sohae missile engine test facility. It also raised the possibility of shuttering more sites and allowing international inspections if Washington took “corresponding measures,” of which there has so far been no sign.

Last week, North Korea called off a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York, and state media said on Monday the resumption of some small-scale military drills by South Korea and the United States violated a recent agreement aimed at lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The sites identified in the CSIS report are scattered in remote, mountainous areas across North Korea, and could be used to house ballistic missiles of various ranges, with the largest believed to be capable of striking anywhere in the United States……”

November 13, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea warns it might return to developing nuclear weapons, if USA does not end sanctions

North Korea warns of returning to nuclear policy, News 24 2018-11-04 North Korea has warned the US it will “seriously” consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons if Washington does not end tough economic sanctions against the impoverished regime.

For years, the North had pursued a “byungjin” policy of simultaneously developing its nuclear capabilities alongside the economy.

In April, citing a “fresh climate of detente and peace” on the peninsula, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the nuclear quest complete and said his country would focus on “socialist economic construction”.

But a statement issued by the North’s foreign ministry said Pyongyang could revert to its former policy if the US did not change its stance over sanctions.

“The word ‘byungjin’ may appear again and the change of the line could be seriously reconsidered,” said the statement carried by the official KCNA news agency late on Friday.


At a historic summit in Singapore in June, US President Donald Trump and Kim signed a vaguely-worded statement on denuclearisation.

But little progress has been made since then, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions against the North until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation” and Pyongyang condemning US demands as “gangster-like”.

“The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible,” said the statement, released under the name of the director of the foreign ministry’s Institute for American Studies.

“What remains to be done is the US corresponding reply,” it added.

The statement is the latest sign of Pyongyang’s increasing frustration with Washington……..

In an interview with Fox News on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that sanctions will remain until Pyongyang carries out it denuclearisation commitments made in Singapore, adding he will meet with his North Korean counterpart next week.

November 5, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to resume nuclear talks with North Korea this week

Pompeo Resuming Nuclear Talks with N. Korea This Week, VOA, November 04, 2018 Ken Bredemeier, 

November 5, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Preparation for nuclear international inspections – North Korea

North Korea is reportedly preparing nuclear and missile sites for international inspectors, CNBC, Wed, 31 Oct 2018  

  • South Korea’s spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for international inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.
  • Kim Min-ki of the ruling Democratic Party told reporters that intelligence officials had observed what they believed to be preparations for possible inspections at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Sohae Satellite launching ground.

South Korea’s spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for international inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday, citing a South Korean lawmaker………

Washington has demanded steps such as a full disclosure of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to Pyongyang’s key goals, including an easing of international sanctions and an official end to the Korean War.

American officials have been skeptical of Kim’s commitment to giving up nuclear weapons, but the North’s pledge at the summit with the South drew an enthusiastic response from President Donald Trump

November 3, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

South Korean President Moon says that Kim Jong Un sincerely wants to abandon nuclear weapons

North Korea leader sincere, must be rewarded for move to abandon nuclear weapons: South Korean president, 15 Oct 18, PARIS (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is sincere and really means to abandon nuclear weapons, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a French newspaper, adding that the international community needed to reward him for that.

……..“This year I have discussed in depth with Kim for hours. These meetings have convinced me that he has taken the strategic decision to abandon his nuclear weapon,” Moon told Le Figaro in an interview before a state visit to Paris.    Moon is to meet President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

……Moon said he hoped another Trump-Kim summit would allow the two leaders to go further than the statements they made at their first meeting in Singapore.

“Declaring an end to the Korea war would be a start to establishing a regime of peace,” he said, also calling for the United States to take “reliable corresponding measures to guarantee the security of the regime”.

“We could also in the future discuss the easing of sanctions, in accordance with progress on denuclearization,” he added.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Nuclear safety should be the first priority in the Korean Peninsula

First, cooperate on nuclear safety in the Korean Peninsula, The Hill, 

Absent since the restart of dialogue with North Korea is any discussion on inter-Korean nuclear safety cooperation, despite concerns over possible safety risks at the North Korean nuclear complex. Inattention to the facility could have dire consequences for the peninsula: radioactive fallout does not recognize borders.

For example, because of its inability to acquire civil nuclear technology from abroad, North Korea might try to develop its own power reactor from a variation of outdated Soviet designs such as the RBMK-1000 type that resulted in the most catastrophic man-made disaster in history, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. On the other hand, the possible dismantlement of nuclear facilities such as the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which contains hazardous material and radioactive elements, could contaminate the surrounding environment and expose North Korean workers if there is improper clean-up.

In addition, as the operator of several fuel cycle facilities, North Korean leaders and experts no doubt would be interested in learning more about Japan’s costly lessons with nuclear safety. Despite having sophisticated industrial capability and arguably high nuclear safety standards, Japan has experienced deadly accidents in fuel cycle facilities — most notably the accident at a fuel fabrication plant in Tokaimura in September 1999, when the mishandling of enriched uranium led to the death of two workers from acute radiation exposure, and permanent injury of another. The accident, attributed to poor safety culture and inadequate regulatory oversight, exposed 436 people to radiation.

Without strict safety practices and adequate protection, North Korea might experience a similar scenario. Furthermore, the country has issues related to emergency response and communication in the event of a nuclear accident because of the secretive nature of its nuclear program. In particular, because North Korea terminated all cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2009, it would be difficult for outsiders to learn about any incident and provide support, if necessary. It is equally difficult for North Koreans to improve their safety culture and standards without an adequate, transparent working environment.

Why make nuclear safety an early priority in the high-level diplomatic process with North Korea? The number, pervasiveness and close-to-the-border locations of nuclear facilitates in North Korea are reasons enough.

The significant role of nuclear energy in electricity generation in South Korea, where 24 nuclear power units contribute almost 30 percent of the electricity production, means South Korean experts would have much to share.

Indeed, South Korea has had to overcome its own safety problems, such as the cover-up of a plant blackout at the Kori-1 nuclear power unit in 2012, and the revelation of falsified test results for safety-grade equipment in the same year. Scientists and engineers from these two countries should be enabled to cooperate on nuclear safety by sharing information about their safety practices.

Besides, communication platforms have existed for this kind of engineering diplomacy. Striving for the middle-power status in the region, South Korea has proposed several initiatives aimed at regional integration among Northeast Asian countries; thus, the issue of nuclear safety in North Korea would be a perfect opportunity for Moon to promote a nuclear safety initiative for bilateral cooperation of nuclear safety professionals from the two Koreas. ……..

October 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea is not really making any big nuclear concession

Why North Korea’s latest nuclear concession isn’t one at all
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wants you to believe North Korea just gave up something big. It didn’t.
Vox By Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made “significant progress” over the weekend toward dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The problem is it’s not clear what advancement he’s pointing to.

The two met for a nearly three-hour summit in Pyongyang on Sunday to discuss a way to break the impasse in discussions. Speaking after the meeting on Monday, Pompeo told reporters that North Korea has agreed to let international inspectors visit Punggye-ri, the site of all six of North Korea’s nuclear tests. In September 2017, Pyongyang tested a nuke there that was around seven times stronger than the bomb America dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Letting inspectors visit the facility may sound well and good, except for one thing: It’s already been destroyed.

North Korea blew up that facility in May. And although the country’s leaders had originally invited international inspectors to witness the demolition, they changed their minds and said they would only allow a small group of foreign journalists to watch. CNN, for example, could only watch the destruction from about 1,600 feet away.

Letting inspectors in now to verify that the site is, in fact, destroyed is certainly a welcome step. After all, North Korea has been reluctant for years to let outsiders into its nuclear facilities and question officials at the sites. And while it’s unclear how much access the inspectors will get, it’s understandable that Pompeo is touting this as a victory……….

A second Trump-Kim summit may be on the horizon

The US and North Korea remain in a stalemate over how to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Washington wants Pyongyang to destroy much of its nuclear arsenal upfront and offer an inventory list of all parts of its program. Kim’s regime, meanwhile, wants President Donald Trump to sign a peace declaration — a nonbinding document that would formally end the Korean War — before Pyongyang makes any concessions.

Experts are split on whether that’s a good idea. Those who want the US to sign the agreement say it’s costless because it’s nonbinding, and therefore America has nothing to lose and everything to gain by signing it………

October 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that North Korea is ready to allow inspection of key nuclear site

October 9, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks about breaking USA-North Korea stalemate


BY REUTERS  OCTOBER 7, 2018  EOUL, – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his trip to Pyongyang, aimed at breaking a stalemate in nuclear negotiations between the two countries.

Shortly after arriving in South Korea following the visit, Pompeo posted a photo of himself walking along with Kim on Twitter, saying: “Had a good trip to #Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim. We continue to make progress on agreements made at Singapore Summit.  Thanks for hosting me and my team @StateDept.”

October 8, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea could have 60 nuclear weapons- according to South Korea Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon

South Korea says Kim Jong Un could have 60 nuclear weapons  SEOUL, South Korea , CBS News, 2 Oct 18-– A top South Korean official told lawmakers that North Korea is estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons, in Seoul’s first public comment about the size of the North’s secrecy-clouded weapons arsenal. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament Monday the estimates on the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal range from 20 bombs to as many as 60. He was responding to a question by a lawmaker, saying the information came from the intelligence authorities.

The National Intelligence Service, South Korea’s main spy agency, couldn’t immediately comment.

Cho may have unintentionally revealed the information. His ministry said Tuesday Cho’s comments didn’t mean that South Korea would accept North Korea as a nuclear state, suggesting Seoul’s diplomatic efforts to rid the North of its nuclear program would continue.

The South Korean assessment on the North’s arsenal is not much different from various outside civilian estimates largely based on the amount of nuclear materials that North is believed to have produced……….

October 5, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment