By Jim Emerson, staff writer
In October, 2006 the rogue nation conducted its first nuclear test and claimed to have exploded a Hiroshima sized bomb in May 2009. These early tests were plutonium based weapons extracted from spent fuel rods from indigenous reactors. Current Intelligence estimates that North Korea has enough plutonium to produce about a dozen such bombs. A small nuclear reactor at Yongbyon which provided plutonium for this program was later shut down under an agreement with the Bush administration in 2008. This left North Korea to seek other options.
Since 1996 North Korea has been seeking uranium enrichment technology and has bought equipment from the renegade Pakistani nuclear dealer A. Q. Khan. Khan was a founder of Pakistan’s uranium enrichment program and provided Libya, and North Korea with designs and technology to aid in their nuclear weapons programs.
Dr. Siegfried S. Hecker, Nuclear Scientist
Dr. Hecker, a Stanford professor, visited North Korea’s Yongbyon atomic complex this month. This facility was remodeled for one reason, to enrich uranium. In an interview the professor was “stunned” by the sophistication of the new plant, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges that had just been installed in a recently gutted building that had housed an aging fuel fabrication center, and that were operated from what he called “an ultra-modern control room.”
The North Koreans boasted that they have 2000 active centrifuges already installed and operating. Nevertheless, their admission of 2000 centrifuges makes for a safe bet that the North Koreans have many more nuclear enrichment facilities that predate the modern facility in Yongbyon.
The impoverished, isolated country, like Iran, claim they are only using them to produce lower grade enriched uranium for energy production. In violation of its agreements the North Korean government is building a new light water nuclear reactor at the dismantled Yongbyon site. Dr. Hecker doesn’t believe that the plant will solely produce fuel grade uranium. Without any outside oversight the North Koreans could generate a large amount of weapons grade material to produce more or improve existing atomic bombs.
North Korea has a history of selling weapons to anyone, even the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
North Korea doesn’t act up unless it wants something. According to a senior administration official, Kim Jong-il wants to force President Obama to reward him with something. Nuclear Blackmail wouldn’t be out of the question. In the past, the little dictator with a bad haircut has not lived up with any agreements with the U.S. or the U.N.
Most likely the Yongbyon plant shows that North Korea is a nuclear state and must be treated as such. The tour was performed in order to build up the credentials of the North’s next dictator, Kim Jong-un. To prove to the North Koreans and the world who is in charge.
Pray for the future of our children.
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This day in history November 27
1895: Alfred Nobel establishes Nobel Prize
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