Joseph DeTrani, a former special envoy of the U.S. for Six-Party Talks with North Korea, warned that if North Korea is allowed to retain its nuclear weapons, South Korea, Japan, and others in the region may also decide to own them. He argued that countries, such as North Korea and Iran, and terrorist organizations should be banned from having nuclear power to prevent global nuclear proliferation.
In his article published on U.S. political media The Hill, DeTrani analyzed the meaning of the death of Abdul Qadeer Khan, a national hero in Pakistan who was the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb program, and emphasized that his death doesn't stop the threat of nuclear proliferation. “Iran, North Korea and Libya aggressively pursued a relationship with Khan,” said the special envoy after explaining Khan’s nuclear development activities. He claimed that unlike Libya, which eventually abandoned its pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran and North Korea have persisted with their programs.
“North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests and continues to reprocess spent fuel rods for plutonium for nuclear weapons. They are assessed to have between 40 to 60 nuclear weapons,” said DeTrani. He also added that although North Korea has never admitted to having a highly enriched uranium program for weapons, it does have a declared modern uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon, reportedly with thousands of spinning centrifuges. The special envoy mentioned that North Korea reportedly supported Syria in the construction of a nuclear reactor in Al-Kibar and Al Qaeda reportedly attempted to acquire nuclear weapons and fissile materials from North Korea.
‘If North Korea is permitted to retain its nuclear weapons, South Korea, Japan and others in the region may decide that, despite U.S. nuclear deterrence commitments, they need their own nuclear weapons,” He added that if Iran pursues a nuclear weapons program, it’s likely that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey will pursue their own nuclear weapons programs.