International cooperation is crucial
Influential officials and experts have been voicing concerns over North Korea’s capability of producing uranium atomic bombs and the possibility that it has mastered the technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit inside rockets. During a parliamentary audit on Monday, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said that Seoul believes Pyongyang has achieved a significant level of technology in producing uranium-based nuclear weapons. He reaffirmed what Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, told reporters at the Pentagon on Oct. 24. Scaparrotti said that North Korea is now capable of building a small nuclear warhead that fits into a ballistic missile. The country has also developed a launcher that could carry an intercontinental ballistic missile containing a nuclear warhead.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se made a similar remark during a parliamentary audit of the foreign ministry. He stated that North Korea has conducted nuclear tests three times and in due time will be able to make nuclear bombs small enough to fit into missiles. He said that the possibility of North Korea possessing such weapons is growing.
Uranium-based weapons can be used without conducting separate nuclear tests and are difficult to track and monitor because the centrifuges needed to enrich uranium for bombs can be easily hidden from satellites. If North Korea has mastered the technology to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit into the warhead of a long-range missile, it would put not only the Korean Peninsula, but global peace in danger.
The government must accelerate its efforts to prevent further developments in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. It must propose that the issue be dealt with as a key part of the agenda during next month’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing and at separate Korea-China summit talks. Containing North Korea’s clandestine nuclear development programs should concern both Seoul and Beijing.
North Korea has been keeping up with uranium enrichment programs and developing Scud missiles, according to intelligence reports in Seoul and Washington. South Korea and the United States must reinforce anti-missile systems, including the Kill Chain and the Korea Air and Missile Defense system.
The more the North makes advancements in its nuclear weapons program, the greater danger we are in. JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 28, Page 30