News / Asia

Report Sheds Light on North Korean Nuclear Program

Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is pictured in this undated photo released by the North's KCNA, December 28, 2011.
Late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is pictured in this undated photo released by the North's KCNA, December 28, 2011.
SEOUL — Japanese newspapers are reporting North Korea's late leader gave explicit instructions to mass produce uranium-based weapons.  The country contends it is enriching uranium solely for power generation.

The Mainichi Shimbun and Tokyo Shimbun published excerpts from writings purported to expose the North Korean leader's order to mass produce nuclear weapons fueled with highly-enriched uranium.

The Japanese newspapers say the instruction was revealed in a 19-page internal document likely compiled in February of this year for senior officials of North Korea's only political party.

Kim Jong-il died in December of last year and his third son, Kim Jong-un, now runs the reclusive and impoverished country.

In Seoul, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk was asked by reporters for the South Korean government's reaction to the published reports.

Kim says it is not appropriate for the South Korean government to discuss it as it has no way to immediately confirm the authenticity.  He says it is essentially the North Korean government's responsibility to verify the report or say the document is not real.

There has been no immediate reaction from North Korea about the reports.

Professor Ryoo Kihl-jae at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul says it is not really possible, at this stage, to determine the authenticity of the document.

The professor says, even if the document is verified, it will not change the stance of other countries toward North Korea, because they already know Pyongyang is openly and covertly demonstrating its desire for nuclear weapons.

North Korea has long claimed its uranium-enrichment program is solely for producing electricity.  But the Japanese newspapers, citing the document, report the elder Kim clearly told officials to use a uranium-enrichment plant “to mass-produce nuclear bombs.”

Professor Ryoo explains that, although it appears that North Korea's use of plutonium to make nuclear weapons has been halted, the scope of its weapons program remains unknown.

The professor says the purported order to make massive numbers of nuclear weapons is unfeasible for now.  But he says North Korea has the capability to increase future production.

North Korea has acknowledged using plutonium, but not uranium, to make nuclear weapons.  It carried out two underground detonations in 2006 and 2009, which Pyongyang declared as successful nuclear tests.

There has been speculation among analysts that North Korea might soon attempt a third test, possibly fueled with uranium.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid