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North Korean Nucleur Proliferation


In Manhattan in June 1993, sixteen U.S. and North Korean delegates met to chat the way forward concerning the North Korean Nuclear Program. The delegates had never met before; they were led in the meeting by a chief negotiator (Robert Gallucci). The North Korean delegates arrived in the meeting with only one intention, defending their rights of developing the most overwhelming weaponry ever known. In the meeting, it was evident that the North Korean delegates wore tags with a picture of their president (Kim Sung), a self-proclaimed great leader of North Korea. The negotiations were the initial critical analysis in the most serious nuclear-proliferation predicament ever known since the Soviet-Missile crisis in Cuba. On the side of the U.S, the most contagious issue was the North Korean acquisition of nuclear weaponry when it was locked in antagonism with it and all its allies. “The U.S therefore tried to put up efforts towards upholding of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and to stop the spreading of nuclear weaponry” (Wit, Poneman & Galluci 14). The U.S was doing this through supporting organizations responsible for documenting nuclear non-proliferation regimes and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

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“For the United States stakes were high, from the outset. The American Government estimated that North Korea would be able to produce about 150 kilograms of plutonium yearly once all the three nuclear reactors were operational” (Wit, Poneman & Galluci 14). This kind of capacity was enough to build up more than 30 Nagasaki-like nuclear weaponry every year, and a lot more that could find their way to terrorist groupings. The major part of the crisis came up when North Korea refused to conform to the safeguard accord they had signed earlier with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The situation threatened to deteriorate further following Pyongyang’s declaration of withdrawing from the NPT. Failure to contain this situation was viewed to be disastrous since several other nations could initiate their nuclear programs. Because of this, the United Nation was forced to intervene to arrest the situation before it could spin out of hand. Therefore this paper will focus mainly on North Korean Nuclear Proliferation.


Nuclear-proliferation is a phrase currently used in describing the increase in nuclear weaponry, “fissile material, and weapons using nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as “Nuclear Weapon States” by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or NPT” (Heuser, 12). Proliferation is combated by many countries having or with no nuclear weaponry. The reason for this are that when more and more nations acquire these forms of weaponry, there may be an increased likelihood of nuclear-warfare (this would include the so-called counter-valuing, aiming of civilians with these kinds of weaponry), there would also be a de-stabilization of international and regional-relations, together with infringements on the national sovereignty of nations.

“North Korea is a master at denying the United States information on its sensitive military capabilities. The resulting lack of information on the North Korean nuclear weapon program thereat, makes the threat highly uncertain” (Bennett, 9). Currently, North Korea is hosting cases of rebellious behaviors, economic challenges, and black-market dealings together with corruption high up in the administration. Owing to the ailing conditions of the North Korean president, a dynastic succession might be attempted. This might create a delicate situation owing to the piles of weapons of mass destruction found in the country. If a civil war breaks out in North Korea for example, warring factions would almost certainly use the weapons of mass destruction on each other. The situation would not only have an effect within the borders but also on neighboring countries like China and South Korea. The effects might come in the forms of refugees and direct effects of the weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea too is locked in hostility with the U.S and all its allied countries, this is to say that in case it successfully initiated its nuclear program, it might easily be tempted to use it against its foes.

“North Korea joined the NPT in 1985 and had subsequently signed a safeguards agreement with IAEA. However it was believed that North Korea was diverting plutonium extracted from the fuel of its reactor at Yongbyon, for use in nuclear weapons” (Hecker, 46). The altercation with IAEA which followed the inspection concern and supposed violations, made it threaten to pull out of the NPT in 1993. Because of this, negotiations meeting with the U.S was initiated, which resulted in the Agreed Framework of 1994. “This provided for IAEA safeguards being applied to its reactors and spent fuel rods. These spent fuel rods were sealed in canisters by the U.S to prevent North Korea from extracting plutonium from them” (Hecker, 46). Consequently, North Korea froze the plutonium program. As much as this was done, North Korea carried out an underground nuclear-explosive experiment on October 16, 2006. The approximated result of this experiment was under one kiloton. In a meeting in Beijing China on April 24, 2003, North Korean delegates accepted that they had nuclear weapons. They went further to threaten the export of the same if the U.S did not agree to a one-on-one meeting with them.

Therefore, North Korea for some considerable time now has been found in dirty black market activities in firearms. These dealings have been done mainly in collaboration with China and Pakistan. Among the weapon dealings that North Korea is involved in, there is some considerable proof of nuclear weapon technology. This has been underground and it is not evident what this country is up to.

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Relevant international agreements

The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) agreed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1985. This was owed to the circumstance of the supplying of a nuclear-powered station by the USSR. DPRK belated winding up its NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, this is a procedure that normally takes one year and six months to April 1992.

In this period, DPPK started operating an undersized gas-cooled, graphite restrained natural uranium-powered Experimental-Power-Reactor plant. This was about twenty-five MWt, as per the UK Magnox designs. Whereas this was an appropriate design to initiate a completely home-grown nuclear-reactor progression, it also demonstrated every feature of an undersized plutonium-producing reactor for weaponry functions. This country again made considerable progress in constructing 2 bigger reactors developed on a similar principle, a trial product of approximately two hundred MWt, with a complete edition of approximately 800 MW. This nation made considerably slow development; construction stopped in 1994 and has not been restarted. The two reactors have since spoilt significantly from that period and they might need considerable efforts to renovate them.

In addition, it completed and commissioned a reprocessing plant that makes the Magnox spend nuclear fuel safely, recovering uranium and plutonium. That plutonium, if the fuel was only irradiated to a very low burn-up, would have been in a form very suitable for weapons. Although all these facilities at Yongbyon were to be under safeguards, there was always the risk that at some stage, the DPRK would withdraw from the NPT and use the plutonium for weapons (Pinkston, 12).

One of the initial requirements in initiating NPT safeguards rules is that IAEA should authenticate the first stock-piles of uranium and plutonium. This is for ensuring that all nuclear substances in the nation are affirmed for safeguarding reasons. Whilst commissioning this effort in 1992, IAEA assessors got inconsistencies that pointed out that, the re-processing plant was used more frequently than the DPRK thought. This showed that the DPRK could harbor weapons-grade plutonium that was not known to the IAEA. The information taken to the IAEA by any Member-State supports that proposal by showing that the DPRK has two unaccounted wastage or additional storage sites.

In February 1993, the IAEA asked the DPRK to permit special examinations of the 2 locations in question for the verification of the first stock-piles of nuclear substances. “DPRK declined, and then on 12 March it proclaimed its intentions of withdrawing from the NPT (this normally requires a 3 months, notice)” (Pinkston, 12). In 1993 April the IAEA-Board decided that the DPRK was in nonagreement with safeguard compulsion then took the issue to the UN Security Council. In June 1993, the DPRK proclaimed that it had hung up its pulling out of the NPT, although it afterward declared an extraordinary status concerning the safeguard obligations it had. The matter was declined by the IAEA.

Immediately the DPRK’s nonconformity report had been presented to the UNSC (United Nations Security Council), the fundamental element of the IAEA’s undertaking had been accomplished. Weapons-inspections in the DPRK went about with their operations, even though they were more and more hindered in what they were allowed to perform by a DPRK’s ascertaining of special status. Nevertheless, about eight thousand decaying fuel-rods linked to the experimentation reactor are still under secure observation.

As a result of bilateral talks between the U.S and the DPRK, in addition to the winding up of the approved structure in October 1994, the IAEA was assigned added tasks. “The agreement requires a freeze on the operation and construction of the DPRK’s plutonium production reactors and their related facilities, and the IAEA is responsible for monitoring the freeze until the facilities are eventually dismantled” (Pinkston, 12). The DPRK is still unhelpful with the IAEA corroboration tasks and it is still yet to meet the terms of its safeguards accord.

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Whilst Iraq was overpowered in war, as a result, gave the UN a chance to look for and obliterate its nuclear weaponry programs as a component of the cease-fire provision, the DPRK was not overcome. Again it was not susceptible to supplementary actions, the likes of trade sanctions. The DPRK can barely afford to trade, and sanctions on essential goods, like oil, could either be unproductive or threat provocative (resulting in war).

In the end, the DPRK was convinced to discontinue what looked like a nuclear weaponry program. This was done in exchange, in an approved framework, for approximately five billion U.S dollars of energy-related support. This was inclusive of 2 one thousand MWe light-water nuclear-powered reactors developed on a superior American System-80 design.

In January 2003 the DPRK withdrew from the NPT. In response, a series of discussions among the DPRK, the United States, and China, a series of six-party talks (the parties being the DPRK, the ROK, China, Japan, the United States, and Russia) were held in Beijing; the first beginning in April 2004 concerning North Korea’s weapons program. On 10 January 2005, North Korea affirmed that it was possessing of nuclear weaponry. (Pinkston, 12).

On 19 September the same year, the 4th session of the Six-Party Talks was concluded with a combined declaration in which North Korea approved that it would put an end to the nuclear program it had earlier stated and go back to the NPT is a substitute to tactful, power and financial aid. “Conversely, towards the end of 2005 the DPRK had put a stop to all “six-party talks” for the reason that the United States had frozen some DPRK global fiscal assets (the likes of those in the bank at Macau)” (Pinkston, 12).

On 9 October 2006, North Korea declared that it had carried out its first nuclear weapon test. On 18 December 2006, “the six-party-talks started once more. On 13 February 2007, the factions declared Initial Actions in the implementation of the 2005 combined declaration that included shut down and disabling of North Korean nuclear programs facilities as a substitute with energy assistance” (Pinkston, 12). As shown by Pinkston again, “reacting to UN sanctions imposed after missile tests in April 2009, North Korea withdrew from the six-party talks, restarted its nuclear facilities and conducted a second nuclear test on 25 May 2009” (Pinkston, 12).

After diverse explosions that were caused by the North Koreans greatly affecting the near states, worries were imparted to various individuals. This was linked to the North Korean leader’s declaration on the threshold use of nuclear materials by the Korean people. It was a result of the intensification in the use of nuclear devices. From the outrageous impacts that were imposed on innocent individuals in the bordering states, several intergovernmental organizations came up with agreements towards the non-proliferation of nuclear materials by the North Koreans. Some of the organizations that took part in coming up with this joint conformity included the inter-governmental organization (IGOs), transnational cooperation (TNCs) as well as transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) proposed denial of other country’s access to nuclear weapons. This was meant to deter the explosions of nuclear devices from North Koreans to other countries. This was raised concerning the networks and cooperation between North Koreans and other countries such as Iraq. It involved the trafficking of nuclear devices. These individuals believe that developing authority and limiting the network and denying the freedom towards litheness furthermore intelligibility may help counter the North Korean proliferation. “The relationships between the DPRK [North Korean] and Khan networks show the shifting roles that ring members may play, with the DPRK acting on different occasions as a buyer, seller, and supplier to mutual partners” (Braun and Chyba 49). Since some countries have flexible laws concerning their trading activities with some other different interacting countries, the implementation of this suggestion could help deter the networking with nuclear devices.

To minimize the North Korean proliferation activities, the NGOs called for the establishment of various trustworthy companies that deal with nuclear petroleum materials. They should be allowed to deal with legalized conventions with other countries and also stick to the given laws on how the companies should run. This should be followed by the abolishment of institutions that do not want to adhere to the accepted and recommended regulations. Individuals working from these companies should be versed in various nuclear activities. There is also a need for regulation of the prices of fuel to standard prices. Whenever the prices fluctuate, there is a consequent rise in the use of nuclear materials thus proliferations expected. The attainment of stable fuel prices could help deter nuclear explosion activities. The fuel companies, as well as fuel prices, are the main links to nuclear proliferation. The alteration will have a propensity of decline in nuclear proliferation.

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The inter-governmental organizations called for nuclear materials security. This included the control and limitation of the materials needed to be manufactured. The call was directed to transnational corporations such as General Electric and Toshiba. This should be enforced to prevent the manufacture of dangerous nuclear materials. “The term ‘nuclear security’ needs to be treated more broadly, with the understanding that it includes real security as it relates to the production and utilization of nuclear components both in the military and in the civilian sectors, as well as security in general,

and the developing a collective security consciousness demands an acknowledgement that there is no such thing as nuclear security, and thus, a fatal lapse of security at any site in any country would affect everyone” (Eilstrup 12).

The nuclear explosions and proliferation that were rapidly practiced by the North Korean people imparted threats to individuals in the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council was prompted to engage in a joint agreement with the North Koreans. The UNSC proposed the banning of the practice of nuclear testing by the North Korean people. Universally, the agreement proscribed “testing, manufacturing, producing, receiving, possessing, storing, deploying, or using nuclear weapons, and operating uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing facilities on the Korean peninsula” (Eilstrup, 12). The North Korean people were expected to obey and also respect the agreement. The agreement was expected to reduce the rate of nuclear proliferation by the North Korean people.

Relevant states and their interests in the program

The U.S and South Korea are viewed as states that are highly vulnerable to the North Korean nuclear program. This is because they are not in good relationships. Therefore the U.S’s interest in this program is the termination of the same. South Korea on the other hand is based on the influence of the U.S, other powerful states, and international organizations to arrest the situation as it is closest and most vulnerable to the threat. This is mainly because of severed relationships between the two countries. On the other hand, a country like Pakistan would want to acquire the products of the North Korean nuclear program for its interest through the black market. Conversely, Russia would like to get monetary gain by selling nuclear technology to North Korea for the creation of these weapons of mass destruction.

The overall global effects

North Korea has so far created a lot of plutonium which could make about ten or so nuclear weapons. The country might also have smuggled in plutonium that could make the same number of nuclear weapons. After experimenting with two nuclear weapons, the country may still be harboring more than 10 such weapons. As a result of this, North Korea can be able to direct these weapons against South Korea, China, Russia, and even the U.S and its allies. The features of these weapons are very uncertain. “Basically, they are assumed to yield in a ten kiloton range” (Bennett, 11). It is said that some of these weapons have a 1 kiloton range but with the uncertainty of smuggled technologies or such help from other nations, they might yield up to a 50 kiloton range. Japan, South Korea, and the U.S are indeed highly vulnerable and the accuracies on these desired targets might be initiated in ranges of less than 5 kilometers to their targets. The most contagious issue on the effects the North Korean weapons can cause is that it is not known how they are powered or their modes of execution.

A lot of the shown aspects would affect the overall effect of an attack. “At the physical level, a 10 Kt nuclear weapon could have a lethal radius of about 1,100 meters and a serious casualty radius of almost 1,500 meters in a ground bust. Ground busts can a cause 1,800 meter casualty” (Bennett, 11).

“North Korea is likely to focus on threatening and attacking cities with nuclear weapons to give it a major leverage in a conflict. Its 3 nominal weapons can cause about 19% casualties to one ground force division” (Bennett, 11). Other damages could be directed at airfields. The only advantage is that North Korea does not have a lot of these weapons to cause extensive damages to most of its targets. “In contrast, such weapons targeted against Seoul could cause an expected half a million causalities (after accounting for delivery probability and reliability)” (Bennett, 11). This is a massive quantity of damage that could cause incredible physical effects together with political ramifications.

If an attack was planned on any other city in Japan or South Korea, the number of causalities can be 40% or below the estimation in Seoul. Other effects of such a weapon can be the damage caused on buildings, infrastructure which can bring about critical economic effects and humanitarian devastation. Radiation can also have serious health effects. “While the United States lost less than 0.002 percent of its population to the September 11, 2001, attacks, it lost 1 to 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) that year” (Bennett, 11). An attack on a city in South Korea can cause an immense economic impact.

The future of the nuclear program

The implementation of traditional safeguards by the North Koreans could help reduce the incidences of nuclear proliferation. These involve the imposition of measures to aid in managing the utilization of nuclear resources. It entails the sampling and testing of all the nuclear-related materials. The movement of nuclear materials within and outside the country is greatly regulated. The North Korean people’s access to nuclear materials is controlled at large. Some other electronic gadgets could be employed in the detection of the illegal movements of nuclear materials inside as well as outside the country. These safeguards in North Korea were at large supported by ambassadorial, financial as well as politically related measures. The implementation of this practice will appear to resolve part of the nuclear proliferation cases.

A proliferation security initiative agreed among different nations including North Korea could help reduce nuclear proliferation. These entailed stopping and searching vessels in the territories of the concerned countries. This search is carried out to help them identify banned weapons including technology. The initiative provides countries with extensive authority to plank vessels moreover confiscate illegitimate consignments. In the course of this initiative, the nuclear supplier’s group in North Korea was appealed to cease distributing nuclear materials to other countries. Through this network initiative, the North Koreans could be able to carry out the identification of key personages. This could be followed by transactions plus the regulation of nuclear material movement in North Korea.

North Korea participated in the signing of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In this treaty, the countries proposed the strengthening of safeguards against nuclear proliferation. The treaty banned the transfer and selling of prohibited nuclear materials from one country to another. This led to the decline in the cases of nuclear proliferation and explosion. There was the need for North Korea to be disarmed as it was in the treaty. Proliferation was not allowed in the treaty. There was also a need for peaceful use of nuclear energy. These were some of the pillars that were agreed upon between the North Koreans and other countries in the treaty.

The formation of programs by the North Koreans shortly could provide a path for the transformation of research on nuclear weapons plus the inclusion of the invention of the infrastructure which could help improve the efficiency, in response to the nuclear proliferation. Once it’s declared of the infrastructure that can help in responding to threats from nearby states and some methodological problems in issues related to the utilization of nuclear weapons, then it will be possible to achieve the decline in the cases of nuclear proliferation. Security against selfish nuclear weapons testing will also be achieved.

Lastly, the formation of institutions in the North Korean country that encourage resistance against the proliferation of nuclear weapons could help in reducing the incidences of a nuclear explosion. These organizations could help in empowering the North Korean people on the outrageous impacts brought about as a result of nuclear proliferation. Most of the individuals who indulge themselves in the nuclear explosion are usually unaware of the effects that could be experienced. Conversely, this could help educate the people on the safe use of nuclear materials.


“North Korea is a failing state that is increasingly dependent on its nuclear weapons for deterrence of outside intervention, for both internal and external leverage in peace time, and for overcoming its conventional inferiority in a time of war” (Bennett, 79). Its nuclear capability is not known because of its secretiveness, although even nuclear weapons with the least capabilities can cause heavy casualties and devastation. The most damage here can be inflicted on South Korea, and Japan courtesy to some acquired references from North Korea. Again it is true that despite their inability to produce powerful weapons to combat against the U.S and South Korea, the ones they have are enough to devastate South Korea to a point where they cannot operate without a lot of external help.

Works cited

Bennett, Bruce. Uncertainties in North Korean Nuclear Threat. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. 2010. Print.

Braun, Chaim, and Christopher Chyba. “Proliferation Rings: New Challenges to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime.” International Security, 29. 2. (2004): 5- 49.Print.

Eilstrup, Mette. “Transnational Networks and New Security Threats.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 18. ( 2005): 7-13. Print.

Hecker, Siegfried. Report on North Korean Nuclear Program. Stanford: Center for International Security and Cooperation. 2010. Print.

Heuser, Beatrice. Proliferation and the use of nuclear weapons. Weapons of mass destruction journal of strategic studies, 23.1. (2000): 74-100. Print.

Pinkston, Daniel. Bargaining Failure and the North Korean Nuclear Program’s Impact on International Nonproliferation Regimes. KNDU Review, 8.2, (2003): 10-32. Print.

Wit, Joel., Poneman, Daniel., & Gallucci, Robert. Going critical: the first North Korean nuclear crisis. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010. Print.

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