North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues
Congressional research rept.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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This report summarizes what is known from open sources about the North Korean nuclear weapons program--including weapons-usable fissile material and warhead estimates--and assesses current developments in achieving denuclearization. In total, it is estimated that North Korea has between 30 and 50 kilograms of separated plutonium, enough for at least half a dozen nuclear weapons. While North Koreas weapons program has been plutonium-based from the start, in the last decade, intelligence emerged pointing to a second route to a bomb using highly enriched uranium. However, the scope and success of a uranium enrichment program may be limited. Little detailed open-source information is available about the DPRKs nuclear weapons production capabilities, warhead sophistication, the extent of a uranium enrichment program, or proliferation activities. Beginning in late 2002, North Korea ended an eight-year freeze on its plutonium production program, expelled international inspectors, and restarted facilities. In September 2005, members of the Six Party Talks United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and North Korea issued a Joint Statement on the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test, with a yield of less than 1 kiloton. In February 2007, North Korea and the other members of the Six-Party Talks agreed on steps for phased implementation of the 2005 denuclearization agreement. Phase 1 included the shut-down of plutonium production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for an initial heavy fuel oil shipment to North Korea. Phase 2 steps included disablement of plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon and a complete and correct declaration of DPRK nuclear activities, in exchange for delivery of energy assistance and removal of certain U.S. sanctions.
- Nuclear Weapons