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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid