50 people in North asked about nuclear program

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50 people in North asked about nuclear program

WASHINGTON - The majority of North Koreans are negative about their country’s nuclear weapons program, with many of them saying it is not a source of national pride or prosperity, a U.S. survey showed Friday.

The poll, conducted through individual conversations with 50 North Korean citizens in summer and fall last year, found that 43 of the respondents were ambivalent to highly negative about the nuclear development, according to Beyond Parallel, a project of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Seventy percent said the weapons program did not give them a sense of national pride, while 72 percent said they did not think it made them a prosperous nation.

The respondents - 20 women and 30 men - included ruling party officials, security officers, farmers and homemakers. They ranged in age from 24 to 64 and their educational background varied from middle school graduates to university degree holders. They lived across the nation, from Ryanggang Province on the northern border with China to the capital Pyongyang to Kangwon Province on the southern border with South Korea.

A mid-career soldier was quoted as saying nuclear weapons are “the devil’s weapons” and “will lead to our extinction.”A middle-aged woman called the program “crazy” and accused the leaders of thinking only about themselves when the people are struggling. In North Korea, it is rare to speak out against leader Kim Jong-un as he and his father and grandfather - former leaders of the regime - have established a cult of personality around them.

Still, seven respondents expressed a positive attitude toward the nuclear weapons program, saying it has helped protect the regime from attacks from powerful nations such as the United States and China.

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