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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid