Document confirms North’s nuke arsenal

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Document confirms North’s nuke arsenal

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made an order to maintain secrecy in the storage and management of atomic weapons, the JoongAng Ilbo learned from a confidential document, confirming that it possesses a nuclear arsenal.

The JoongAng Ilbo obtained Wednesday a document from the Workers’ Party Munitions Industry Department. It was created after Kim visited Factory 92 on Feb. 25 - 12 days after Kim’s half-brother was assassinated in Malaysia.

The visit was not publicized by North Korea’s state-run media.

According to South Korean military authorities, little is known about Factory 92. Officials believe that nuclear warheads and missiles are produced there. Its exact location is unknown.

The document was created on Feb. 27 following Kim’s inspection of the factory. It was classified as confidential with the title, “On the countermeasures for the issues concerning implementation of the Respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un’s order.”

“Development, production, storage and management of nuclear weapons are the most important of our country’s military secrets,” Kim was quoted as saying in the report during his inspection of the factory. “They are the ultimate secrets that decide our country’s fate.”

While North Korea insists that it is a nuclear power and even amended its constitution in 2012 to proclaim that, the international community does not recognize it as a nuclear state. The document on nuclear weapons storage and management confirms that the North has a nuclear arsenal.

Military and security authorities are paying special attention to the list of recipients of the document: General Bureau 8, Factory 92 and the Ryongsong Munitions and Precision Machinery Factory. They were also identified in the document as possible subjects of infiltration.

General Bureau 8 is under the second economic committee of the Munitions Industry Department. It performs a similar role to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration of South Korea. Military authorities believe that the Ryongsong factory is also a facility that produces missiles and nuclear warheads.

“When you build a nuclear bomb, it needs to be placed on a missile, so factories related to components of nuclear arms and missiles are increasing in the North,” said a military official. “We believe there are about 30 facilities scattered around the country.”

Lee Yun-keol, a North Korean defector currently heading the North Korea Strategic Information Service Centre in Seoul, said Kim’s late father Kim Jong-il visited Factory 92 in 2005 and praised it for building great missiles.

“The North’s nuclear abilities are completely different from the time of the 1994 Geneva Agreement and 2007 six-party talks, when economic assistance was offered in return for freezing the nuclear facilities,” said Professor Kim Jin-moo of the Graduate School of International Studies at Sookmyung Women’s University. “We need to create a strategy under the assumption that the North already possesses nuclear weapons.”

A government official, however, warned, “It was not confirmed if the nuclear weapons Kim mentioned in the document are finished products.”

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