David Albright: N. KOREA TALK……

Purpose of Talk Today

  • What is the size and nature of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program? How do they procure abroad for these programs?
  • Any quantitative estimates will have significant uncertainty. e.g. estimates of separated plutonium and weapon-grade uranium stocks are not precise.
  • Estimates of the number of nuclear weapons are derived from the estimates of plutonium and weapon-grade uranium stocks.
  • Sufficient information is known to derive credible median values with uncertainty ranges.

Nuclear Weapons Capabilities

  • The bottom line is that North Korea has an improving nuclear weapons arsenal
  • North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability benefits from
  • Procurements abroad;
  • A functioning industrial complex making plutonium and weapon-grade uranium;
  • An ability at sites unknown to research, develop, and manufacture nuclear weapons;
  • Possible integration facilities that could mate a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile;
  • Nuclear warhead storage capabilities;
  • Nuclear testing at its Punggye-ri underground test site and associated component testing and cold-testing facilities at unknown locations; and
  • A robust program to develop, manufacture, and test missiles of various ranges.

Growth of North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Complex in Recent Years

The last several years have witnessed a dramatic and overt build-up in North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The main activities include:

  • Five underground nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016;
  • Restart and refurbishment of the small five megawatt-electric (MWe) reactor at Yongbyon after a several year halt;
  • Separation of several kg of plutonium in 2009 and again in 2016 from the 5 Mwe reactor at the Radiochemical Laboratory at Yongbyon;
  • On-going construction of an experimental light water reactor (ELWR) at Yongbyon (type of reactor is uncertain);
  • Construction by a nuclear organization of a new graphite production facility;
  • Revelation of a centrifuge plant at Yongbyon in 2010 and subsequent doubling of its floor size a few years later;
  • Construction of facilities to make thermonuclear materials, including a lithium 6 enrichment plant and an Isotope Production Facility able to separate tritium;
  • Modernization and construction of many buildings at Yongbyon, including likely one able to manufacture fuel for the ELWR and others to support reactor and centrifuge operations;
  • Refurbishing of uranium mines and mills;
  • The development and manufacture of nuclear weapons at sites unknown;
  • A great deal of work related to the development and manufacture of ballistic missiles;
  • These activities have been supported by extensive overseas procurements of equipment, material, and technology.
  • Five underground nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016;
  • Restart and refurbishment of the small five megawatt-electric (MWe) reactor at Yongbyon after a several year halt;
  • Separation of several kg of plutonium in 2009 and again in 2016 from the 5 Mwe reactor at the Radiochemical Laboratory at Yongbyon;
  • On-going construction of an experimental light water reactor (ELWR) at Yongbyon (type of reactor is uncertain);
  • Construction by a nuclear organization of a new graphite production facility;
  • Revelation of a centrifuge plant at Yongbyon in 2010 and subsequent doubling of its floor size a few years later;
  • Construction of facilities to make thermonuclear materials, including a lithium 6 enrichment plant and an Isotope Production Facility able to separate tritium;
  • Modernization and construction of many buildings at Yongbyon, including likely one able to manufacture fuel for the ELWR and others to support reactor and centrifuge operations;
  • Refurbishing of uranium mines and mills;
  • The development and manufacture of nuclear weapons at sites unknown;
  • A great deal of work related to the development and manufacture of ballistic missiles;
  • These activities have been supported by extensive overseas procurements of equipment, material, and technology.

North_Korea_Talk_April_28_2017_Final

 

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