North Korean Weapons Proliferation
Table of Contents
In an attempt to impede the nuclear weapons spread to other countries, much interest has been shown on the purported “supply-side” issue of North-Korean nuclear proliferation-associated intelligence. In this issue, the main hindrance to offer policymakers with timely and accurate information regarding the accruing moves of North-Korean government to attain nuclear weapons-making ability. This is to enable them react appropriately with military force, covert actions, interdiction, economic sanctions, diplomacy or other statecraft tools. Less interest, nevertheless, has been centered on what may be referred to as the “demand-side” concern of proliferation intelligence. In this case, the main hindrance is that sometimes, policymakers may choose not to obtain information regarding nuclear proliferation-associated provocations of a foreign government, lest they are needed to react in specific ways. These ways would fundamentally contract or complicate their chosen policies. When dealing with nuclear weapon proliferation, intelligence is imperative, but only if a government wants it.
Contrary to the common assumption, it is also accurate that at times, chief players do not desire to attain consistent information at all. This is owing to the notion that it would impel them to react, or otherwise go through uncomfortable political outcomes. This intelligence paper will analyze different reports given regarding the North-Korean weapons proliferation capabilities and particularly, nuclear weaponry. Data that touches on different incidences of attacks of North Korea will be collected and critically analyzed to promote comprehension on the counter measures that may be prepared by the US and other states.
North Korean Nuclear Weapon Capabilities
Several questions concerning nuclear capabilities of North Korea remain, notwithstanding the numerous negotiations, announcements, reports and conducted nuclear tests by Pyongyang. There has been no transparency from North Korea regarding its military capabilities and intentions. Therefore, up to date, there is a continuing deliberation over whether the country has only “devices” or also bombs. Furthermore, intelligence personnel, academics, and policymakers also continue to dispute over whether the country will soon have a warhead built up on a missile. The primary plutonium subversive nuclear test by North Koreans was performed on 9 October 2006. During that period, North Korea efficiently concluded any deliberation concerning their possession of nuclear weapons. Subsequent to this nuclear test, several analysts evaluated it to be no less than partly victorious detonation of a nuclear device with a plutonium nature.
- Siegfried S. Hecker, a researcher based in Stanford University identifies that North Korea sought for 4 kilotons but instead obtained 1 kiloton. This was fundamentally considered sufficient for an initial test. The researcher referred it to as successful, although not perfect.
- Hui Zhang, another researcher from John F. Kennedy School of Government provided a practical and interesting appraisal in a report he conveyed in 2007. The researcher outlined that “If North Korea prepared a 4 kt yield (as appraised in previous reports); the trial could have been successful. This could demonstrate that Pyongyang were confident of detonating a bigger nuclear device and may be currently following a more condensed warhead to mount its missiles. ”
- Following the above statements, the outcome is that during the year 2006, North Korea confirmed to the universe that they possessed the ability to effectively explode their plutonium nuclear device, possibly a weapon, although at least partly successfully.
- On 25 May 2009, a second subversive plutonium nuclear test was conducted by North Korea. The majority of analysts concur that the test explosion was considerably bigger than the first one (1 kt).several approximates through international experts evaluated the explosion power to have ranged from 2-6 kt. The best guess was that the explosion could have used 4 kt. Of importance for this intelligence paper, scientists and nuclear experts evaluated during the 2009 experiment of the North Korea nuclear device, it would be able to kill thousands of individuals, particularly if the detonation was carried out in a main city.
- In a documentation publicized to the press during the year 2009 through A.Q. Khan, previous chief of Pakistan’s nuclear program, North Korea had before then, enriched small uranium quantities by 2002. After touring a North Korean plant in 2002, he asserted that there were approximately 3,000 centrifuges. He also asserted that there was another North Korean plant responsible for enriching uranium using Uranium hexafluoride gas.
While the information provided on the North Korean capabilities is particularly useful, it is noteworthy that these assertions were confirmed by North Korea where, it outlined that there will be commencement of the uranium enrichment process. This evidence was conveyed by the Korean Central News Agency, which is run by the state. Experts have outlined that two nuclear devices could be produced annually, with North Korea’s existing Highly Enriching Uranium (HEU) plant. Based on a large number of evidence, the progress of North Korea’s HEU is past the Research and Development phase. This indicates that the program may be close to conclusion, which guarantees HEU weapon production.
According to the evidence provided, the highly enigmatic nuclear program of North Korea is almost capable or now able to generate two forms of nuclear weapons. These consists the HEU-and plutonium-based weapons systems. Policymakers and military officials should plan accordingly, based on this evaluation.
Owing to the existing evidence, which now confirms the development of North Korea’s two-track program of nuclear weapons, an evaluation of the forms of nuclear attack scenarios is achievable, founded on these capabilities. Several possibilities exist for the capabilities of attacks that can be launched by North Korea, especially, considering the degree of thought by Pyongyang in preparing for its asymmetric abilities.
This ability is one, which all scientists and analysts can confirm that North Koreans possess in their arsenal. However, numerous things embody a plutonium ability that must be considered. A thriving plutonium weapon presents as typically bigger when compared to a HEU weapon. Due to the required amount of explosives and the weapon size, a plutonium weapon poses challenges in being mounted on a missile as opposed to a HEU weapon. Considering this challenge, North Korea has developed bombs as an alternative means. This means diversity in the application of a plutonium bomb. Although considering the evaluation that currently any North Korean weapon would be primitive, it is rational to presume that the weapon used would be big. It would also possess primitive implosion or triggering mechanisms to lead to detonation of the nuclear weapons. Furthermore, it would possess a fission procedure that would possibly fail to lead to weapon detonation to its full ability according to the 2006 assessment.
In the scenario of using a plutonium bomb as an alternative, the delivery mechanism would be through an aircraft. After a careful assessment, it has been discovered that North Koreans possess an aircraft that has the ability of being applied for that type of a mission. This aircraft is the H-5, which is a Chinese edition of the 1L-28 light bomber of the old Soviet. A ship covered up as a merchant trawler or cargo vessel acts as another means of delivery.
If an individual is to question an attack of North Korea on Japan rather than South Korea, the response is rather uncomplicated. A nuclear attack directed on Japan instantly prior to a full-blown war was to start on the Korean cape would result in severe issues in both the Japan-U.S and the ROK-U.S alliance. This kind of an attack would probably lead to indignation among the Japanese population, leading to pressure on the Prime Minister to take abrupt action in opposition to the North Koreans. Following this response, a great angst would be caused in Seoul, where whichever direct Japanese participation in a war particularly, on the Korean cape would likely to be merely intolerable. As the U.S aimed to navigate, the military and diplomatic minefields that aspire for a satisfactory solution to its mutual chief partners in East Asia might cause the conventional forces of North Korea to progress through the Kaesong-Munsan Corridor and Cheorwon valley. Certainly, a nuclear attack launched by North Korea directed towards Japan can cause a catastrophic blow to the affected country, although it would result in political turmoil. This would establish susceptibilities in the military responses of Japan, South Korea and U.S.
On 12 October 2013, North Korea issued a report through the Korean Central News Agency. The report threatens to revisit security stipulations to those located at the end of the winter training cycle of North Korea in March. While mentioning a two-day work out by the Japan, Republic of Korea and US forces, a spokesperson representing the North’s National Defense Commission affirmed:
“Careless provocative practices would face North Korea’s retaliatory strikes and result to a justice war intended to cause an eventual demonstration with the US”
“North Korea emphasizes again the withdrawal of different measures intended to strangulate and isolate the country by the US.
The National Defense Commission issued an elucidation of what it delineated as its principled declaration. The elucidation did not intimidate all out war, although rejected the non-aggression pact offered by the US Secretary of State. The elucidation contains three key points.
- “The United States ought to abandon the convention way of reasoning, and conservative stand and discard the threadbare hostile strategy towards North Korea, before it becomes too late.”
- “If the United States truthfully desires to enhance the relations with North Korea, it has to accurately comprehend the country and act as suiting a superpower”
The attempts to impede the nuclear proliferation weapons in North Korea have proven futile by Japan, South Korea and United States. This owes to the resources that are available for the advancement of its capabilities, such as the HEF. North Korea continues to use war threats as a means to accomplish its operational and political gains. With this respect, it is significant for the US and other nations to be strategic in planning for stoppage of these threats, or actual attacks because the operations adopted by North Korea are also premeditated.
Ahn, Mun Suk. “What Is the Root Cause of the North Korean Nuclear Program?.” Asian Affairs: An American Review 38, no. 4 (October 2011): 175-187
Hymans, Jacques E. C. “Assessing North Korean Nuclear Intentions and Capacities: A New Approach.” Journal Of East Asian Studies 8, no. 2 (May 2008): 259-292
Roehrig, Terence, and Lara A. Wessel. “Congress and U.S.-North Korean Relations: The Role of the Entrepreneur.” Asian Affairs: An American Review 38, no. 2 (April 2011): 89-108
Snyder, Scott. “US Policy Toward North Korea.” SERI Quarterly 6, no. 1 (January 2013): 99- 104
“Containing the North Korean Threat.” Bloomberg Businessweek no. 4315 (February 4, 2013): 8. Fitzpatrick, Mark. “North Korean Proliferation Challenges: The Role of the European Union.” The European Network of Independent Non-proliferation Think Tanks 18, (June 2012): 1-16
Zarate, Robert. “The Non-Use and Abuse of Nuclear Proliferation Intelligence in the Cases of North Korea and Iran.” 8, (April, 2013): 1-23
Article in a Newspaper
Bruce E. Bechtol Jr., “Planning for the Unthinkable: Countering a North Korean Nuclear Attack and Management of Post-Attack Scenarios”, NAPSNet Special Reports, October 06, 2011, http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/planning-for-the-unthinkable- countering-a-north-korean-nuclear-attack-and-management-of-post-attack-scenarios
David Sanger, “U.S. Weighs Intercepting North Korean Shipments,” New York Times, June 7, 2009.
 Ibid, 176
 Ibid, 91
 Ibid, 180
 Bruce E. Bechtol Jr., “Planning for the Unthinkable: Countering a North Korean Nuclear Attack and Management of Post-Attack Scenarios”, NAPSNet Special Reports, October 06, 2011
 Ibid, 5
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