North Korea is working to make more nuclear weapons. Is it ready to talk proliferation?
Nuclear weapons talks between the United States and North Korea stalled during former President Donald Trump’s administration
North Korea has restarted its plutonium production operations, The Wall Street Journal reported, a sign that the county could be building up its nuclear arsenal. But, similar moves by North Korea in the past have been used as a form of leverage in proliferation talks.
According to a recently published report by the Untied Nation’s atomic agency, satellite images of Yongbyon shows that cooling water from a reactor was recently released and a laboratory, where plutonium from old fuel rods is harvested, appears to be operational.
- In recent years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to keep developing the nation’s nuclear capabilities and proliferation talks between North Korea and the United States have stalled, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Strategically, the expansion of Pyongyang’s stockpile of nuclear weapons serves “both as a deterrent and a deal-bargaining chip for potential talks with the U.S.,” the Journal reported.
The Biden administration has offered to resume disarmament talks with the country “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” after negations with between Pyongyang and former President Donald Trump fell apart in 2019, The New York Times reported.
- Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special envoy for North Korea, said during a visit to the Korean peninsula last week that he was prepared to meet with North Korean officials “anywhere and at the any time,” according to The Associated Press.
- “Historically, the North has increased activities at Yongbyon when it has sought to raise tensions and increase its diplomatic leverage,” according to the Times.
When did North Korea test its first nuclear weapon?
North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon nearly 15 years ago and has continued to improve its nuclear technology.
On Oct. 9, 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear bomb test in an underground facility, ABC News reported. A few days after the blast, “the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved military and economic sanctions against North Korea,” according to ABC News.
- According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, North Korea has since conducted nuclear weapons tests in 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
- “In 2017, North Korea successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and in September 2017 it conducted a test of what it claimed was a thermonuclear weapon,” NTI reported.