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North Has 40kg Plutonium: Ministry

Posted December. 30, 2006 07:17,   


On December 29, the Ministry of National Defense published the 2006 National Defense White Paper, in which North Korean nuclear threats were reanalyzed. The white paper estimates that North Korea has 40 to 50kg of plutonium, an amount that allows it to build six to seven nuclear weapons.

Until now, the ministry’s official estimate was that the North had 10 to 14kg of weapons-grade plutonium. However, it revised the number to as high as 50kg at a closed-door meeting of military commanders held on October 10, a day after Pyongyang’s nuclear test.

Following its principle of not recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state, the white paper does not specifically mention whether the regime possesses nuclear weapons despite its nuclear test.

The white paper reads, “North Korea’s conventional military capabilities, nuclear test, WMD and deployment of troops on the frontline constitute a ‘serious threat’ to the security of the Republic of Korea.”

In comparison, the 2004 paper dropped the expression “archenemy” used against the North. Instead, it said, “North Korea’s conventional military capabilities, WMD and deployment of troops on the frontline constitute a ‘direct military threat.’” By changing the wording, military authorities showed that they take military threats from Pyongyang more seriously.

The 2006 white paper, for the first time, defined the main objective of national defense, which is “to safeguard the country from external military threats and invasion.” According to the paper, the definition implies that “preparation against existing military threats from North Korea is the top priority.”

In response to Japan’s 2005 Defense Agency White Paper that referred to Dokdo as part of Japanese territory, the National Defense White Paper clearly states that the islets belong to the ROK’s sovereign territory and that the ROK Navy patrols them.

The defense ministry will distribute 7,000 copies of the 2006 National Defense White Paper to the National Assembly, the administration and educational institutions. The full text will be available on the ministry’s official website (www.mnd.go.kr). The English version is due to be released in around March 2007.