North Korea's Weapons Of Mass Destruction: Problems And Prospects

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9781565912076: North Korea's Weapons Of Mass Destruction: Problems And Prospects

In 2003, the international community witnessed a nuclear showdown with North Korea for the second time since 1993. Actually, it started in October of 2002 with Pyongyang's admission of a secret uranium enrichment program and climaxed in North Korea's announcement of its withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on January 10, 2003, potentially triggering another crisis on the Korean peninsula.

This episode clearly shows that, despite the passage of time, North Korean weapons of mass destruction (WMD) issues die hard and after all the negotiations and political machinations, there has been no significant change in the North's efforts toward developing nuclear weapons.

In order to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, a series of multilateral approaches have been launched but so far with no avail. The crux of the matter is that two of the main participants, North Korea and the United States, have maintained hardline stances in negotiations, especially on the issue of security assurances in return for the North's complete dismantlement of nuclear program.

The development of long range missiles by North Korea is another WMD issue. It is often said that North Korea has overtaken Russia as the world's largest proliferator of ballistic missile technology. A report has it that North Korea had recently sold 12 missile engines to Iran that could be used for long-range rockets, giving veracity to this threat.

Meanwhile, North Korea maintained its voluntary moratorium on ballistic missile testing after a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and its leader, Kim Jong-Il on September 17, 2002, but Pyongyang has recently hinted it may resume testing.

As for chemical and biological weapons, North Korea has been suspected of carrying out a dedicated effort to attain this warfare capability since the 1960s. It has pursued this course even though it is one of a few countries to sign the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Pyongyang also acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), but has reportedly pursued biological warfare capabilities over the last four decades. Its resources include a rudimentary infrastructure sufficient to support the production of limited quantities of toxins and bacterial warfare agents.

As has been briefly noted, North Korea has either developed or is still developing a wide range of weapons of mass destruction. Why is North Korea so stubbornly sticking to the pursuit of WMD? What is the driving force behind North Korea's efforts to develop such deadly weapons? What is the real status concerning weapons of mass destruction in North Korea? What is a possible solution to this protracted problem of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction? This book intends to provide answers to the questions above. This essay is all the more timely because Libya and Iran, long suspected of developing WMD, recently announced their intention to renounce these lethal weapons, which by human nature makes us more concerned about North Korea's response, especially in the wake of Iraq's Saddam Hussein arrest in December, 2003.

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