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Nuke Test Could Be North’s Last Card

Posted August. 19, 2006 03:02,   


“North Korea has capabilities to conduct a nuclear test, and it is logically possible,” said a government official Friday. North Korea’s last and logical choice would be nuclear testing since it has used all the other cards that can be used to escalate tension. North Korea has declared possession of nuclear weapons, succeeded in extracting additional nuclear materials by using plutonium and uranium, and carried out test of its missiles that can weaponize nuclear materials.

In fact, North Korea has been waging a physical demonstration with the missile launch on July 5. However, the U.S. is not actively seeking dialogue but, instead, passed a resolution at the U.N. Security Council to pressure the North.

“The missile launch was a part of normal military exercises that help strengthen self defense military capabilities. If somebody provokes us on this, we will take stronger physical action,” said a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry in North Korea.

In spite of this, the government believes North Korea will not use its last card soon. The government is rather intentionally exposing suspicious actions of North Korea to pressure the U.S. to come to bilateral talks.

North Korea succeeded in bringing the U.S. to dialogue and even received agricultural support, including 600,000 tons of food in 1998, by cunningly transforming an empty tunnel in Geumchang into a nuclear facility.

“North Korea will not bulldoze a nuclear test, which is considered to be the last card that obviously crosses the line. North Korea should also consider the burden of failing a nuclear test,” said Go Yoo-hwan, a professor at Dongguk University.

Rumors that North Korea’s preparing a nuclear test have been surfacing almost every year since October 2002 when the second nuclear crisis erupted through its highly enriched uranium program.

In May of last year, tensions escalated due to a report that claimed North Korea set up an observation deck in order to watch nuclear tests in Punggye. Although both Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities have been closely watching the movement and activities of North Korea, no nuclear weapon tests have been carried out.

Prior to this, a massive explosion and mushroom shaped clouds were detected in September 2004 at the northern border town of Kimhyeonggick, Ryanggang. This created a great stir and made people wonder whether North Korea had actually started a nuclear test. In this regard, North Korea explained that it was doing excavation work to build a water reactor and allowed European Union ambassadors to inspect the site.

Moreover, the New York Times reported in July 2003 that a nuclear facility was detected in Yongdok in North Korea by U.S. intelligence satellites, and the facility is equipped to conduct a small nuclear test.

There are so many unconfirmed reports because, unlike missile tests, nuclear tests carried out underground are hard to detect beforehand.

“Unlike missile tests, nuclear tests are carried out in a mountainous area, making it difficult for us to recognize movement; we are not confident about discovering such activities early,” a government official said.

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