Saturday, June 13, 2009

North Korea to ‘Weaponize’ Its Plutonium

North Korea to ‘Weaponize’ Its Plutonium

North Korea responded to new United Nations sanctions on Saturday by defiantly vowing to press forward with production of nuclear weapons and take “resolute military actions” against efforts to isolate it.

The official Korean Central News Agency declared that N. Korea will continue its
nuclear program to defend itself against a hostile United States policy and that N. Korea will “weaponize” its existing plutonium stockpiles and begin a new program to enrich uranium, another material that can be used to make atomic warheads.

The statement was released hours after the Security Council voted to punish the North for its May 25 nuclear test and ballistic missile tests with tough sanctions including an arms embargo and high-seas searches of North Korean vessels.

The statement was an apparent reference to spent fuel rods from the North’s Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear complex. Since the early 1990s, United Nations inspectors have tried to keep tabs on the rods, which can be reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium.

North Korea has grown increasingly isolated as it has pressed forward with a nuclear program that many analysts now believe is aimed at producing an independent nuclear deterrent. The country also tested a long-range rocket in April and may soon launch
another one in what many analysts call an effort to produce a delivery system capable of reaching the mainland United States, which it views as its biggest military threat.

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