North Korea continued its production of nuclear materials enough to fuel a half-dozen nuclear warheads during the time between the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in June and the second summit in Hanoi, according to U.S. intelligence authorities cited in the New York Times’ report Saturday (local time).
“Intelligence estimates suggest that North Korea produced enough uranium and plutonium to fuel a half-dozen new nuclear warheads” during eight months between the summits, the newspaper said. Bloomberg had also reported in January that the North is believed to have secured materials for nuclear fission enough to produce at least six nuclear bombs and added more ICBMs to its arsenal.
The NYT also noted additional movements detected in the North’s testing site at Punggye-ri, whose entrances were blown up in May. “Commercial satellite photographs suggest the buildings containing the control rooms and computers used to trigger and study the explosions were carefully mothballed.”
Despite the evidence that North Korea was advancing its weapons program, U.S. President Donald Trump “sought to soften it in public to avoid imperiling negotiations,” according to the report.
However, Trump’s latest remarks suggest a subtle shift in his attitude, the report added. When asked about the evidence pointing to the North’s continued production of nuclear materials at a news conference in Hanoi, Trump said, “Some people are saying that and some people aren’t.” However, the NYT said that “Mr. Trump no longer denounces news reports of expanded missile bases or revived test sites as ‘fake news,’ as he did before the meeting in Hanoi” and that some analysts “worry the moratorium may be coming to an end.”
Ji-Sun Choi email@example.com