In the News – N.Korea ‘Spent Enough on Nukes to Buy Food for 8 Years’


In the News – N.Korea ‘Spent Enough on Nukes to Buy Food for 8 Years’

Chronically hard-up North Korea has spent a total of US$6.58 billion on nuclear weapons development and now has a dozen bombs, including three uranium weapons, a South Korean expert claims. The expert, who requested anonymity, said the money would have been enough to buy 1,940 tons of corn from China or eight year’s worth of rations for the North Korean people.

Since the 1980s, North Korea spent $2.01 billion on building nuclear facilities including those in Yongbyon, $310 million on related research, $2.72 billion to operate the facilities, $1.34 billion to develop nuclear weapons, and $200 million on nuclear tests, he claimed.

North Korea says it operates 2,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges. If that is true, it would be able to produce 40 kg of highly enriched uranium per year. Since it takes 15 to 25 kg of uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, North Korea may have developed one to two uranium bombs a year, the expert explained.


Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea believed to have enriched uranium for up to 6 bombs: expert


In the News – N. Korea believed to have enriched uranium for up to 6 bombs: expert

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) — North Korea is believed to now have enough large stocks of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium for up to six bombs, a local nuclear expert said Wednesday, amid growing concerns that the North may be ready for a new nuclear test.

The North has long been believed to have enough radioactive material for six to seven bombs using plutonium from its main nuclear complex located at Yongbyon, north of the capital Pyongyang. Since 2009, Pyongyang appears to have started relying on enrichment activities because of its dwindling stock of plutonium after two rounds of nuclear tests.

In November 2010, North Korea disclosed an industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant to a visiting U.S. scientist, claiming that the enrichment program is for peaceful energy development. Outside experts, however, believe that it gives the North a new source of fissile material to make atomic bombs. Continue reading

North Korea’s Embarrassing Rocket Launch

If you’ve kept up with the news at all, you may know about North Korea’s recent failed rocket launch. I know it’s been in the news quite a lot but I thought I’d provide a simplified version of what happened.

This past March, North Korea and the United States entered negotiations once again. The United States offered to provide 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance if North Korea would “freeze its nuclear and missile tests, along with uranium enrichment programs, and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors.” This was big step both for North Korea and the U.S. because it meant that the North would possibly be giving up its biggest weapon and it also meant that the United States would be sending food aid to the impoverished country for the first time since 2009. It was also the first time North Korea and the U.S. had official talks since Kim Jong Un came to power. Thus, these negotiations had a lot of meaning because it would have determined DPRK’s future relationship with the United States. Continue reading

In the News – Students Targeted for Rocket ‘Rumors’


In the News – Students Targeted for Rocket ‘Rumors’

North Korea detains university students over a failed rocket launch.

North Korean students work on their computers at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, April 11, 2012.

Authorities in North Korea are hunting down college students suspected of “spreading rumors” about a recent failed rocket launch amid warnings the reclusive state may stage a nuclear test.

North Korea defied international warnings and fired a long-range rocket on April 13 saying that it would carry a satellite into space, but the rocket crashed into the sea just minutes after takeoff, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and its allies who called the act a “provocative” move.

New leader Kim Jong Un had shrugged off international concerns and pushed ahead with the launch in conjunction with the 100th birthday of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the deceased founder of the state.

Now, according to students, security personnel at some universities in North Korea are being instructed to take those who talk about the rocket failure into custody.

“The authorities are hunting down students who have spread rumors about the failed launch of the Kwangmyung-sung-3 [satellite] at the Hoeryong Teacher Training College (now renamed Kim Jong Suk Teacher Training College),” said one student from North Hamyong province, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Continue reading

In the News – Satellite photos show intense activity at N. Korea nuclear site


In the News – Satellite photos show intense activity at N. Korea nuclear site


Satellite images of North Korea’s nuclear test site shows “lots of activity” in preparation for another underground bomb test, analysts who have studied the aerial surveillance of the prohibited weapons site said Friday.

The 38 North website of the U.S.-Korea Institute of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies posted three satellite photos showing the progression of work at the blast site over the last seven weeks.

“We can tell there has been a lot of activity at the site. You can see vehicles moving around, objects being moved around. They’ve been digging a lot of dirt out of the tunnel,” said Joel Wit, a visiting scholar at the institute and editor of the website on North Korea. “But, at end of day, you can’t really tell whether it’s ready or not.”

Diplomatic and intelligence sources have been warning for weeks that a nuclear test — in defiance of international warnings to Pyongyang — appeared to be imminent. Continue reading

In the News – China Warns N.Korea Off Nuclear Test


In the News – China Warns N.Korea Off Nuclear Test

A high-ranking official in China’s Foreign Ministry has issued a rare public warning to North Korea against another nuclear test, saying it would violate China’s national interest. The comments were made by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai to reporters at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

“I am opposed to any act that damages peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, since such acts can damage the national security and interests of not only other countries but China’s as well,” Cui said. “No side should commit acts that raise tensions.”

This is the first time for China to comment publicly on the North’s nuclear development since the possibility of Pyongyang conducting a third nuclear test was raised.

But Cui resisted U.S. demands that China step up pressure on North Korea. “Maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia is the joint responsibility of all of the concerned countries, not just China alone,” he said.


Original article can be found here.

In the News – N.Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy U.S. Military in ‘Single Blow’


In the News – N.Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy U.S. Military in ‘Single Blow’

North Korea’s army marked its 80th anniversary Wednesday with a vow to retaliate against what its chief of staff terms the traitors in the South. The remarks are the latest in a series of harsh threats directed at Seoul in recent weeks.

◆ N.Korea’s Provocations

North Korea is boasting of “powerful, modern weapons” that can defeat in a single blow the United States, which it accuses of plotting a war against it.

Chief of general staff, Ri Yong-ho, gave no further details about the weaponry in his speech to mark the North Korean army’s 80th anniversary. His address, from Pyongyang’s House of Culture, was broadcast later in the day on North Korean television.

Vice Marshal Ri says the blood of North Korea’s military and civilians is boiling in anger with a desire for revenge against South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak. He reiterates a threat of “sacred war,” transmitted earlier in the week, to crush the bases of provocation in the South. Continue reading

In the News – N. Korea’s Neighbors Oppose New Nuclear Test


In the News – N. Korea’s Neighbors Oppose New Nuclear Test

South Korea and China are warning North Korea of consequences if it goes ahead with a third nuclear test.

There is increasing speculation North Korea will attempt to conduct another nuclear test, perhaps within the next one or two weeks.

South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je warns any such action will violate international sanctions and further isolate the impoverished country.

Cho says, as far as the South Korean government knows, there are no signs North Korea is about to conduct such a test. Continue reading

In the News – North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon” – source


In the News – North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon” – source

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, April 24 (Reuters) – North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test and has the capacity to carry it out “soon,” a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.

“Soon. Preparations are almost complete,” the source said when asked whether North Korea was planning to undertake a nuclear test.

North Korea said last week it was ready to retaliate in the face of international condemnation over this month’s failed rocket launch, increasing the likelihood the hermit state will push ahead with a third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

The source has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 days before it took place. Continue reading

In the News – N.Korea ‘to Launch Another Rocket’


In the News – N.Korea ‘to Launch Another Rocket’

North Korea will launch another rocket after a launch failed on April 13, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin claimed Friday. “It is hard to predict” when, Kim told reporters, but “we’ve detected signs” of another rocket launch.

After the failed launch, the North Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement on April 17 vowed to “continue to launch peaceful satellites essential to the country’s economic development.” The North’s Outer Space Technology Committee last Thursday claimed to have found a “detailed scientific reason” for the failure of the last launch.

Two rockets were taken from a missile plant in Sanum-dong, Pyongyang to the Tongchang-ri launch site on March 24, according to the South Korean government.

In the News – N. Korea’s rocket launch highlights S. Korea’s geopolitical risk: Moody’s


In the News – N. Korea’s rocket launch highlights S. Korea’s geopolitical risk: Moody’s

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s long-range rocket launch underscores South Korea’s exposure to geopolitical risks, a leading global credit rating agency said Monday.

Moody’s Investor Service said in its weekly credit outlook report that Friday’s launch showed that the leadership change in Pyongyang following the death of Kim Jong-il late last year has not altered the threat posed by Pyongyang to Seoul’s A1 “positive” sovereign credit rating position.

Moody’s upgraded its outlook to “positive” from “stable” early this month.

The agency said that the fact North Korea reneged so soon after agreeing not to test its missiles is a “credit negative development” for South Korea.

The communist country agreed on Feb. 29 that it will not test missiles and nuclear bombs.

Moody’s, claimed that besides the rocket launch, the North could escalate tensions further this year with a third nuclear weapons test.

The country detonated two nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009 in the face of stiff criticism from the international community.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Search for N.Korean Rocket Continues But Yields No Results


In the News – Search for N.Korean Rocket Continues But Yields No Results

The South Korean Navy has deployed more than 10 vessels since Friday to search for the debris of a failed North Korean rocket, but so far little progress has been made, the military said. The rocket broke up within minutes of its take-off and fell into waters 100 km to 150 km west of Pyeongtaek and Gunsan on the peninsula’s west coast.

A military official said on Sunday, “We haven’t recovered anything that looks like rocket debris, despite dispatching the Cheonghaejin, a 4,300-ton submarine rescue ship, and four minesweepers.”

If the fragments are stuck in the bottom of the sea, it makes them hard to detect using sonar technology and difficult to distinguish from other sea waste. The ocean floor lies 40 to 100 m below sea level and the rocket fragments may have left the area in which they are believed to have fallen due to tidal currents.

The Navy is focusing on recovering fragments of second- and third-stage propellants that broke up. These are regarded as the core of the rocket, meaning they could shed light on the North’s technology related to missiles and rockets.

To boost their search efforts, the military is now considering mobilizing a trawler that found the torpedo propellant used by North Korea to sink the Cheonan naval corvette over a year ago. “But money is an issue as it would cost W800 million (US$1=W1,134) to search 1 sq. km [using the trawler]. However, we could restrict its use to areas where we think there is a high chance of success,” said a government official.

Chinese and Russian ships that patrolled the area on Friday, the day the rocket was launched, have reportedly pulled out.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – U.N. Council to Expand North Korea Sanctions


In the News – U.N. Council to Expand North Korea Sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea — The United Nations Security Councilofficially censured North Korea on Monday over the failed rocket launching of a satellite last week, saying it “strongly condemns” the action and had ordered its sanctions committee to expand the blacklist of North Korean goods, companies and individuals connected to that country’s nuclear and missile programs.

“The Security Council underscores that this satellite launch, as well as any launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, is a serious violation” of measures adopted against North Korea in 2006 and 2009, the Council said in a measure known as a presidential statement.

“The Security Council deplores that such a launch has caused grave security concerns in the region,” the statement said.

Such statements do not carry the diplomatic weight of a Security Council resolution. But the Council’s unanimous response and its quickness to act underscored the near total isolation that North Korea’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, faces over this issue. Continue reading

In the News – N. Korean leader vows to strengthen military in first public speech


In the News – N. Korean leader vows to strengthen military in first public speech

SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed Sunday to bolster his country’s military as world powers discuss ways to punish the communist country for carrying out a banned rocket launch.

Kim said the superiority of military technology is no longer a monopoly of imperialists and the North is not threatened by its enemies’ atomic blackmail any more, in an apparent reference to the United States.

“We should strengthen the People’s Army in every way as we can,” Kim said in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, according to a text of his speech provided by South Korea’s Unification Ministry. The ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, monitors North Korea’s state media.

It was the first public speech by the young leader since he took over the country following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il. Continue reading

In the News – S. Korea makes little progress in recovering N. Korean rocket fragments


In the News – S. Korea makes little progress in recovering N. Korean rocket fragments

SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s navy made little progress in recovering North Korean rocket debris on its third straight day of attempts Sunday, officials said.

About 10 South Korean navy vessels were searching international waters of the Yellow Sea off the country’s west coast, but did not find anything presumed to be rocket fragments, a military official said.

The official said the recovery operation could take time as there is much floating waste in the area.

“No major progress has been made in recovering” any debris, said another official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding that no Chinese or Russian vessels had been spotted near the site of the fallen rocket fragments.

North Korea’s long-range rocket exploded soon after lift-off on Friday with the pieces falling into the sea off South Korea’s west coast.

North Korea before the launch threatened to immediately and mercilessly retaliate against any country that intercepted its rocket booster or collected rocket debris.

Original article can be found here

In the News – Embarrassed by rocket crash, North Korea may try nuclear test


In the News – Embarrassed by rocket crash, North Korea may try nuclear test

(Reuters) – North Korea said its much hyped long-range rocket launch failed on Friday, in a very rare and embarrassing public admission of failure by the hermit state and a blow for its new young leader who faces international outrage over the attempt.

The isolated North, using the launch to celebrate the 100th birthday of the dead founding president Kim Il-sung and to mark the rise to power of his grandson Kim Jong-un, is now widely expected to press ahead with its third nuclear test to show its military strength.

“The possibility of an additional long-range rocket launch or a nuclear test, as well as a military provocation to strengthen internal solidarity is very high,” a senior South Korean defence ministry official told a parliamentary hearing.

The two Koreas are divided by the world’s most militarised border and remain technically at war after an armistice ended the Korean War in 1953. Continue reading

In the News – North Korean regime moves on after failed rocket launch


In the News – North Korean regime moves on after failed rocket launch

50,000 North Korean troops and civilians gathered at Kim Il-sung Stadium Saturday in Pyongyang to cheer on their young leader Kim Jung-un. It was another warm-up event to Sunday’s parade and celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.

No disappointment could be found over Friday’s failed rocket launch.With government representatives nearby, one soldier noted that missiles from other countries fail as well. Another was convinced that next time it will go OK.

While Founder Kim was remembered, Leader Kim was center stage. The crowd  pledged their support, promising to lay down their lives for the young man.   Continue reading

In the News – N.Korea Admits Rocket Failed Shortly After Launch


In the News – N.Korea Admits Rocket Failed Shortly After Launch

North Korea has acknowledged a multi-stage rocket it launched early Friday failed to reach orbit. An announcer on North Korean television — interrupting programming four hours after the launch, which was not broadcast — says the Kwangmyongsong-3 earth observation satellite did not succeed in reaching orbit and scientific experts are investigating the cause of the failure.

Officials in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington say North Korea’s rocket indeed blasted off from the launch pad but failed to get very far.

U.S. military officials called it a Taepodong-2 missile. They say it was tracked by satellite on a southern trajectory where the first stage fell into the Yellow Sea. The North American Aerospace Defense Command says the other two stages failed to continue in flight and never posed a threat.

South Korean army major general Shin Won-sik, speaking to reporters at the defense ministry, says the missile began tumbling back to Earth at an altitude of 151 kilometers, separating into about 20 pieces and harmlessly falling into the Yellow Sea 100 to 150 kilometers offshore. Continue reading

In the News – U.S. cancels food aid for N. Korea: White House


In the News – U.S. cancels food aid for N. Korea: White House

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Yonhap) — In its first step to punish North Korea for its latest rocket launch, the Obama administration announced Friday that it would nullify a deal with Pyongyang to provide massive food aid.

“We are not going forward with an agreement to provide them with any assistance,” the White House’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, told reporters.

He said the North would face further measures if it continues to engage in “provocative behavior.”

Pyongyang fired a multistage rocket on Thursday, defying Washington’s repeated warnings, but the launch failed.

The U.S. was widely expected to scrap the food aid plan. Rhodes’ comments were formal confirmation of Washington’s decision not to go ahead with the assistance.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council “deplored” Pyongyang’s act in a verbal statement apparently prior to the release of a written response. Continue reading

In the News – Botched rocket launch deals embarrassing blow to Kim Jong-un


In the News – Botched rocket launch deals embarrassing blow to Kim Jong-un

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s failed rocket launch appears to have dealt an embarrassing blow to new leader Kim Jong-un who has been seeking to establish his credentials, analysts said Friday.

The North had claimed the Unha-3 rocket was meant to place a satellite into orbit as part of the celebrations marking the centennial of the April 15 birth of Kim’s grandfather, the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung.

The satellite launch was also widely seen as Pyongyang’s symbolic gesture to officially usher in a prosperous and powerful nation by the milestone anniversary.

The rocket exploded soon after lift-off and disintegrated into about 20 pieces as it crashed into the sea off South Korea’s west coast, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

In a rare move, North Korea acknowledged through its state media that the earth observation satellite failed to enter into orbit. Continue reading