[imText1]- The ‘North Korea problem’ includes a number of problems including nuclear development, liberalization, human rights, establishing peace in the peninsula, and reunification. Especially the nuclear problem, which has long been a problem without a solution, and will be one of the most important matter to be addressed in Northeast Asia in 2005. I would first like to confirm with you if it is true. Is it true that there are completed nuclear weapons in North Korea?
“The fact that I am sure is because before the Geneva Agreement of 1994, North Korea completed building at least two plutonium nuclear weapons. This is what Jun Byung Ho, secretary of military industry, who was in charge of nuclear weapons development at the time said at a meeting with all the secretariat level officials of the Central Party. During the first North Korea nuclear crisis in 1993-1994 Secretary Jeon asked me, “I have reported the above(Kim Jong Il) that we have completely finished underground nuclear testing preparations but there is no reply. I think this is because the above is considering international relations. What do you think about it as a secretary of international affairs?” At the time, North Korea was capable of conducting underground nuclear testing. You will be able to guess how many nuclear weapons North Korea may possess if you calculate the amount of plutonium they have retrieved from the spent nuclear fuel rods.”
There is a difference in U.S. and Korean estimations of how many nuclear weapons North Korea currently possesses. While South Korea estimates the number of weapons to be one to two, U.S. officially states that it predicts North Korea to have about two to three. On the other hand, American research institution estimations reaches up to five to seven weapons. During the U.S. presidential election campaign, presidential candidate Kerry stated, ‘it is predicted that North Korea already possesses five to seven nuclear weapons.’ South Korea and U.S.’s official estimated number of North Korean nuclear weapons seems to refer to past nuclear weapons of 1993-1994. After the North expelled the IAEA inspectors in December 2002, if North Korea was able to retreat all of the 8000 nuclear fuel rods, then it is possible that North Korea possesses five to eight nuclear weapons.
– What do you think about nuclear weapons with enriched uranium? North Korea has acknowledged at first but has been denying its possession ever since US special envoy James Kelly visited North Korea with evidence of North Korea’s enriched uranium nuclear development in October 2002.
“Secretary Jeon Byung Ho did not attend central secretariat meetings for a while in 1996. Then sometime between the summer and fall of the same year, he came and told us, ‘We no longer need to import plutonium from foreign countries. We have signed an agreement with Pakistan on making nuclear weapons and agreed to make nuclear weapons with uranium 235.’ The agreement with Pakistan was on North Korea providing Pakistan with missile technology and Pakistan providing North Korea with enriched uranium nuclear treatment technology. Later, I heard that Pakistani nuclear scientists have visited North Korea. Enriched uranium nuclear weapons would have started about that time.”
– It has been eight years since 1996. We could predict that enriched uranium nuclear weapons development is now preceded by much. Generally speaking, how far could we predict North Korea has come with its nuclear weapons development?
“Regarding disputes on how many nuclear weapons North Korea developed and on what kind of technology North Korea has to transfer its nuclear weapons, I do not have expertise on technical matters. But I have heard several times from important officials of the central party military industry part, ‘We have solved the problem of solid fuels. We do not know if it will hit the exact target but it can reach the U.S. territory.’ I worked with Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il for forty years. According to my experience, I predict that North Korea possess useable nuclear weapons. Otherwise, North Korean officials will not be able to say, ‘we possess nuclear weapons’ or ‘we have completed reprocessed nuclear weapons.’ North Korea’s announcement of completing nuclear repression is nothing more than a trick to conceal the bigger problem, enriched uranium nuclear weapons.”
Do Not Underestimate the Level of North Korean Nuclear Development
June 8, 2004, Zhou Wenzhong, Chinese vice foreign minister, said in his interview with The New York Times that he doubts North Korea had an enriched uranium program, saying further that the U.S. has not provided clear evidence for it. On the other hand, after his visit to North Korea, US special envoy James Kelly stated, “We have solid evidence on North Korea’s HEU program.” There is a limitation in obtaining evidence due to the nature of the Kim Jong Il regime. Therefore, human resources are imperative.
– How reliable do you think domestic and foreign media on North Korean nuclear-related information?
“We cannot say the nuclear experts have expertise in the reality of North Korea. Furthermore, their information has not been verified by their visits to North Korea. They are underestimating the level of North Korean nuclear development based on their predictions. Some of the foreign technicians’ statements sound as if they speak for the North Korean government. Considering that even if it is not with the nuclear weapons, because North Korea’s biological and chemical weapons are enough to threaten us, we must not underestimate North Korea’s capability of building weapons of mass destruction.”
– Who do you predict to be the person in charge of North Korean nuclear development and management?
“In North Korea, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons development including all the new technology weapons development are conducted under the Military Industry Department of the Labor Party. However, once the weapons are completed, it is the North Korean military that controls and manages them. We could say that when North Korean nuclear weapons are completed, they are already in the hands of the military.”
– Although not possible now, if North Korea rejoins the NPT and accepts the IAEA inspections, do you think the truth about North Korean nuclear development will be all revealed?
“With a nuclear inspection, North Korean nuclear weapons will be discovered without a doubt. What North Korean officials fear the most is the nuclear inspection. However, the ultimate problem is not the North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but the Kim Jong Il dictatorship. If it was not for Kim Jong Il, even North Korea had hundreds of nuclear weapons, we will not face the present threat. With Kim Jong Il, there will always be biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons posing a threat to us. This is the absolute truth. Therefore the essence of the problem does not lie in getting rid of North Korean nuclear weapons but in overthrowing the Kim Jong Il regime.”