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S. Korean Parliament Briefed on N. Korean Weapons - 2002-10-29

South Korea's intelligence chief says North Korea may possess up to four-thousand tons of biochemical weapons and three crude nuclear ones. The head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, Shin Kun, has been quoted by one lawmaker, as saying North Korea may have stockpiled between 2,500 and 4,000 tons of biochemical weapons.

Mr. Shin told Parliament's intelligence committee North Korea began producing biochemical weapons in the 1960s. But he said the agency could not assess how powerful the weapons are, their accuracy, or even if they are compact enough to be deliverable.

Mr. Shin echoed U.S. assessments last week - noting that North Korea may also have built as many as three nuclear weapons using plutonium extracted before Pyongyang allowed international inspections in 1992. The statement comes less than two weeks after the United States reported that North Korea had admitted enriching uranium for possible use in nuclear weapons.

That news prompted a series of international consultations on how to pressure North Korea to quickly dismantle its illegal weapons of mass destruction program.

The program is in violation of an accord signed in 1994, between the North Korea and the United States in which Pyongyang agreed to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program in return for two light-water reactors to generate power and deliveries of fuel oil. North Korea says it considers the agreement void because of long delays in completing the reactors.

Last week, Pyongyang offered to resolve concerns over its nuclear program if Washington agreed to a non-aggression pact with North Korea. But the United States has said the North must dismantle its program without preconditions.