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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear Weapons - 2005 Developments

In early February 2005 it was reported that US intelligence officials had concluded with near certainty that Libya had acquired processed uranium from the DPRK, and not Pakistan. The analysis of the uranium had been hampered by the fact that the US had no sample of known DPRK uranium for comparison with the Libya material. The study was done by eliminating other possible sources of uranium.

North Korea announced on 10 February 2005 that it had nuclear weapons and was suspending its participation in the six-party talks which involved the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. The country's foreign ministry said North Korea developed weapons to protect itself from the United States. "We have wanted the six-party talks but we are compelled to suspend our participation in the talks for an indefinite period till we have recognized that there is justification for us to attend the talks and there are ample conditions and atmosphere to expect positive results from the talks," the statement of a North Korean foreign ministry official said.

The Bush administration tried to keep the focus on the six-party talks, because President Bush believed that was the best chance for a binding agreement ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The White House said there would be no direct talks with North Korea over ending its nuclear weapons program, unless such talks occured within the framework of broader regional negotiations.

Gary Milhollin, the director of the U.S.-based Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said the statement may simply be a way for North Korea to attract attention. "This statement by North Korea that it has nuclear weapons, and it doesn't want to talk to us anymore, what I think you could say about this is that they are trying to get our attention," he says. "They would like to get money from us, and if they don't, then we have to worry about what they might do next -- and that could include selling nuclear weapons to people we don't like, such as terrorists. That's the concern that we should have at this time."

US author and Korea expert Selig Harrison completed a visit to Pyongyang in April 2005 that included talks with senior figures, including Kim Yong Nam, the country's second-ranking official. Harrison, of Washington's Center for International Policy, was reportedly told that North Korea would soon again harvest plutonium from fuel rods at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, giving it enough nuclear explosive to build several more bombs.

Interviewed by ABC News in June 2005, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan implied the North was able to mount nuclear warheads on its missiles which. He said that "Our scientists have the knowledge, comparable to other scientists around the world.... You can take it as you like."

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 04:39:10 ZULU