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Is North Korea seriously disarming?

Posted by Atilla89 on July 20, 2007

This is an update on the North Korea reactor that was supposedly shut down with analysis from Pajamas Media:

In return it is closing down a reactor it has been able to reactivate before. And all along it has retained the plutonium extracted from the same reactor in earlier years. Last year it even tested a nuclear device – perhaps not a fully-fledged nuclear weapon or a fully successful test, but a clear sign at least that it had done everything but cross the threshold.

The next stage, as Mr Hill has cautioned, is going to be much tougher. Pyongyang is now required to produce a full inventory of its nuclear facilities. Included in that list, in Washington’ eyes at least, must be any details on North Korea’s suspected work on highly enriched uranium – a second path to the production of bomb-making material. It is an almost certain bet that North Korea will stall on producing the inventory. It is even more likely that Washington will find any such list worryingly incomplete. Additional rounds of the talks may be needed to haggle on the finer details.

The Yongbyon shut-down may not create momentum for this next stage. Instead it may have removed the pressure from North Korea to act quickly on any subsequent steps. This second stage can be expected to move well into 2008 which also happens to be a presidential election year in Washington – and it would take any new administration months to get its act together and reapply significant pressure on Pyongyang. North Korea may also have now done enough to get its traditionally friendly neighbour China off its back a little. And the supply of fuel may help reinvigorate cooperation with South Korea.

The reactor shutdown is hardly the end of the beginning. The eventual and much more difficult aim of dismantling and removing all of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure remains a rather distant prospect, if it really exists at all.


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