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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid