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North Korea Secures Plutonium Sufficient to Make Nuclear Warheads

North Korea Secures Plutonium Sufficient to Make Nuclear Warheads

Posted November. 22, 2002 22:46,   


The CIA reported to Congress on Nov. 21st that North Korea retains enough plutonium to make additional nuclear warheads. Currently, North is believed to have one or two warheads already.

According to the US media including the AP, the CIA, in its report submitted to Congress, evaluated that North Korea could extract enough plutonium to make several nuclear warheads from the irradiated, or spent nuclear fuel rods in Yongbyon, which are being stored under the surveillance of the IAEA. By the word "several," the CIA reportedly referred to 1-6 nuclear missiles.

The CIA also predicted that North Korea would obtain plutonium sufficient to make more than 50 warheads if it resumed the construction of the light-water nuclear reactors in Yongbyon and Daechun, which could produce 50MW and 200MW, respectively. North Korea stopped construction of those facilities under the 1994 arms control accord made in Geneva with the United States.

This prediction is based on the analysis that those facilities, if completed, could produce 275kg of plutonium. To make out one nuclear weapon, it takes about 5-6kg of plutonium.

In the meanwhile, the head at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center analyzed the CIA and other reports, and came to a conclusion that North Korea could obtain 7-8 nuclear warheads by the end of next year

North Korea, pursuant to the Geneva agreement, has frozen its nuclear weapons program and relevant facilities, and stored some 8,000 spent fuel rods in the water tanks under the control of the IAEA.

Ki-Heung Han eligius@donga.com