Skip to comments.N. Korea: U.S. policy on North seen in flux(nuke-test expected, sanction coming)
Posted on 04/19/2005 11:27:44 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
U.S. policy on North seen in flux
April 20, 2005 - WASHINGTON - Speaking to an American newspaper, North Korea's top diplomat in New York said the country has shut down its nuclear reactor and plans to increase its nuclear deterrent. At the same time, the United States warned that it may soon change its policy and clamp down on the North economically and militarily.
According to a report in USA Today, Han Song-ryol, North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday that his government has shut down its reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex and plans to remove spent fuel rods to build bombs in efforts to increase the country's deterrent power against a possible U.S. attack. The communist state claims that it is nuclear armed and has been warning repeatedly that it would increase its nuclear stockpiles.
The South Korean government confirmed Monday that North Korea's five-megawatt reactor was shut down sometime this month. The action escalates tensions on the Korean Peninsula, as it implies an imminent upgrade of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan warned Monday that Washington could refer the issue to the UN Security Council if North Korea refuses to come back to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
A U.S. State Department official spoke of tougher options. Speaking to the JoongAng Ilbo on condition of anonymity, the official said Washington believes that Pyongyang, if left alone ,will eventually conduct a nuclear test. He said the United States would likely impose economic sanctions against North Korea in a few months, adding that Washington will have to act, rather than "bluffing," during the summer to cope with the worsening situation.
He said the United States will seek cooperation with Japan on economic sanctions, and that it expects opposition from China and South Korea. While the actual impact of economic sanctions imposed by the United States alone will be relatively small, Japan-led sanctions could be damaging. China is North Korea's largest trade partner, followed by South Korea and then Japan.
The State Department source also mentioned the possibility of increasing military pressure on the North, including sending more U.S. troops and an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula. He said, however, that the United States will wait until June to observe the North's moves.
Seoul yesterday downplayed the statements from Washington. Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said there had been no consultations with South Korea on the matter, adding that he thought it was just a "reminder" to the North.
by Kim Chong-hyuck, Kang Chan-ho <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A recent visitor to N. Korea reports that all flat open spaces in Pyongyang were occupied by people rehearsing mass game for the coming gala celebration in August, which is said to be one of the biggest events seen so far. It is the comemoration of 60th anniversary of liberation of Korea. I am sure they would celebrate it in some meaningful way. With all such efforts poured into celebration, we cannot rule out that they would mark the anniversary with some momentous event. A nuke test is one prime candidate.
I don't see it.
First and foremost, so long as China is involved in the 6-way talks, then North Korea's antics are a Chinese problem. Either China can control little Kim Il or not.
Second, shutting down your only nuclear reactor to use those fuel rods for a bomb is like eating your seed corn just before planting season.
No, the U.S. leaves this ball in China's court for now. Let them deal with Little Kimmie.
If there's going to be a nuke test in the next two years, my money says that it will be Iran...and I'm not completely convinced that they can pull it off, either.
I'm going to come back to you in a few months and point out how wrong you were in the above post.
Whether the US takes counter measures earlier or later; before the test or after, it makes no difference. North Korea WILL test a nuke, and they will do it before the year is out.
As for their reactor, its power generation capability is almost nil, and it has no commercial value. This reactor is valuable to the North solely and precisely as a weapon fuel producer. To expect them NOT top harvest its plutonium is as unrealistic as to expect a farmer not to harvest his crops at the end of the growing season.
A US trade embargo against North Korea...
Don't we already have one in place?
If so, how will putting another one atop the existing one do anything at all?
There are still channels for funneling money to N. Korea. Especially from Japan.
But to stop that, Japan needs to start an economic embargo against North Korea.
How does the US creating an embargo on a country that the US already embargo's do much of anything?
It will be an international embargo. So Japan will be on board, for sure. They could also lean hard on China and S. Korea.
I see American sanctions against China coming. The currency issue will be the justification, not the cause.
Already many trade bills against China are on the table in Congress, proposed by Republicans.
Yeah probably drugs and whore houses LOL!
Thanks for the ping.
I wonder if Roh will get a peace prize to for all his great progress on this issue?
It has given the Gomers and their Chia Pet leader plenty of warning. Rice has tried to actually cool things down to give the Chia Pet an excuse to send his negotiators back to Big Brother in Beijing. The Chinese have other ideas, however. Chia Pet serves their purpose as an irritant to American interests.
Should he go with a nuke test, all bets are off, and we can hurt him where he can't hurt us, at sea.
We can begin, and I suspect we have plans for, a campaign of restricted submarine warfare against North Korean maritime shipping. In addition, I strongly suspect that Gomer diesel electrics have been catalogued and placed into the firing computers of the submarines in the Pacific. Sh*t happens when subs start failing to return from routine coastal patrols and ships get boarded or sunk. Chia Pet screams but is quietly informed in no uncertain terms that he had best unf*^k himself lest we decided to use tactical weapons on any Gomer spearheads headed south.
Chia Pet eats his humiliation before all of Asia.
Be Seeing You,
I still don't think they have one. Minority opinion, maybe, but I don't.
When they take action publicly, they are usually ready for two more steps down the road.
A few months later and I'm still right.
Oh ye of little faith...
President Bush and Treasury Secretary Snow broke China's Yuan to Dollar peg this year without sanctions...simply by going yet another year without the U.S. buying Dollars on the open market.
In past Administrations, the U.S. was spending our own foreign currency reserves to buy Dollars in order to prop up the value of the Dollar. This made imports cheap and made our exports pricey for our customers to buy.
The Bush Administration took one look at that folly and said "Let export nations spend their own money to prop up the Dollar."
And for 5 years of the Bush Administration, that's what those export nations did.
Last year, for instance, China spent $165 Billion to prop up the Dollar. For that investment, they earned back a $120 Billion trade surplus. Well, losing $45 Billion per year got old after a while.
China caved. The peg is dead.
...and sanctions weren't required (just simple economics).
Well, they still haven't tested one. Moreover, from the day that their nuclear reactor shuts down, they've got about 140 days left for their Po-210 nuclear triggers to be viable (for an atomic bomb) due to atomic decay (laws of physics still apply, after all).
...And their one frail nuclear reactor is stopped quite a bit, so one wonders if they actually have working atomic triggers available to them.
We are now in the final 3 weeks of North Korea's nuclear option.
The laws of physics apply even to Little Kim, and in physics, we all know that atomic Polynium has a short half-life. Po-210, the isotope required for nuclear triggers, has a 140 day viability (138 day half-life).
Without Po-210 or a similar short-half-life isotope, you get just a fizzle, not a Bang, from an atomic weapon.
Making Po-210 in weapons quantities requires an active nuclear reactor. Storing excess Po-210 can, under some expensive circumstances, slightly extend the 140 day Bang viability, but in general you are up against a pretty set deadline for the expiration of your atomic triggers.
4 months (perhaps more) have now passed since North Korea shut down its nuclear reactor. This leaves 3 weeks at most for NK to still have working nuclear weapons (if they had them at all) if they made their Po-210 triggers all on the last day of operation of their nuclear reactor (doubtful).
Thus, FReepers now know something about North Korea that few outside of Beijing and D.C. know...that NK won't even be able to bluff about having viable atomic weapons in the next 3 weeks.
The mainstream news media will be clueless on this point, in contrast, save for the ones who lurk here.
Ah... but the year's not out, and the jury's not in.
You know, N. Korea restarted their nuclear reactor again. So they may not do it in next several weeks, but could still do it before the end of this year, technically speaking.
I don't know how many times since 2001 we've already crossed over the "red line", though. Next time we should not threaten anything ... just do it. They'll get the message in Pyongyang soon enough. What a charade. How many more rounds of "six party talks" in Communist Beijing are they going to jack us around on??
Self-Ping for later.
What was the date of the re-start?
Their date patterns may be so obvious as to betray their re-stocking of Po-210 triggers.
Here is the article:
N.Korea restarts Yongbyon nuclear reactor-report
Sun Aug 21, 1:24 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - A U.S. satellite has detected signs that North Korea recently restarted a reactor that could be used for the extraction of material to make nuclear warheads, a Japanese newspaper said on Sunday.
The surveillance satellite detected steam coming out of a boiler connected to a building housing the five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, Asahi Shimbun said, quoting unnamed sources related to six-way nuclear crisis talks, including a senior U.S. official.
The sources said the steam had been detected before the resumption of the six-way talks in late July that aimed to entice the North to give up its nuclear weapons and bomb-making programmes in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees.
"It is hard to think that the boiler would operate by itself while the nuclear reactor is stopped. It can only be concluded that North Korea has put in new nuclear fuel rods and has restarted the nuclear reactor," Asahi quoted a U.S. government source as saying.
South Korea said in April the reactor's operations had been suspended and the following month, North Korea said it had completed extracting 8,000 fuel rods from the 5 megawatt reactor.
Rods from old-style graphite reactors can be processed to extract plutonium, a key component in nuclear bombs. Restarting the reactor could mean the North aims to extract more plutonium from the new rods.
North Korea said in February that it possessed nuclear weapons.
North Korea has also spread gravel over a road near a separate unfinished 50-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon. Construction was halted in the 1990s under a previous, and now defunct, nuclear agreement with the United States. Repairing the road could be a sign the North is preparing to resume building work, Asahi said.
The Yongbyon complex, around 100 km (60 miles) north of North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, is the center of the communist state's nuclear programmes.
"North Korea has been suggesting that it is ready to scrap such nuclear reactors, but it is steadily expanding the scope of its nuclear development behind the scenes," the senior U.S. official said.
Six-way talks between North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, Japan and China are to resume in the week of August 29 after 13 days of talks in Beijing from late July to early August failed to reach an accord.
They re-started the reactor on Sunday?!
That's precisely within the time window for maintaining viable Po-210 triggers. They went 4 months with no reactor, and now they'll have replacement Po-210 triggers available in 3 weeks or less, just as the old triggers expired.
They are spending the minimum possible amount of cash... Running their reactor long enough to build their Po-210 triggers, then offline for 4 months, then re-starting their reactor just before the old triggers expire.
We know the general size of this reactor, so now lets see how long they keep it on-line this time. That should give us a ballpark estimate for the number of Po-210 triggers that they are making, which will show the maximum size of their potential nuclear arsenal.
NK went the last four months with their reactor shut down. Now it's been re-started.
Hmmmm, good point.
You can make design trade offs between efficiency and shelf life. Our fizz-fuse-fizz designs have shelf lives of ~ 25 years or more. They aren't very large either. I recent saw a set up for 250 ktons at the Nevada Test Site about half the size of a washing machine.
It's highly unlikely that NK's first generation nuclear weapons, if any, are as advanced as U.S. models.
NK had to be **given** uranium separating centrifuges from Pakistan, for crying out loud! NK hasn't even been confident-enough of their technology to perform a nuke test.
...And the shelf-life for our triggers isn't even 25 years. Pits/Cores would be pushing that timeframe, much less triggers.
Thanks for the ping.
Whether the US takes counter measures earlier or later; before the test or after, it makes no difference. North Korea WILL test a nuke, and they will do it before the year is out."
Looks like I was wrong again. ;>)
I could have told you that months and months ago!
See post #3.
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