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Could North Korea Have a Bomb?

An overview of the methods North Korea could be using to obtain fissile material, and predictions of how close they are to having enough for a nuclear weapon.

North Korea's Nuclear Threat

Since October 2002, North Korea has admitted to a secret uranium-enrichment program, kicked international inspectors out of the country, announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and restarted its plutonium program. Pyongyang maintains that it needs nuclear bombs to defend itself against a U.S. attack. In excerpts from their FRONTLINE interviews, William Perry, Thomas Hubbard, and Ashton Carter debate how serious a threat the North's nuclear ambitions pose.

Map: North Korea's Missile Trade

The export of ballistic missiles and related technology is one of North Korea's main sources of hard currency. Media reports estimate that Pyongyang earns an estimated $100 billion to $500 billion per year from missile sales alone -- and according to the CIA, that money fuels continued missile development and production. Here is a map showing where North Korea is exporting missiles and where it gets its missile technology.

related readings and links
Council on Foreign Relations: The Crisis

A backgrounder on the current nuclear dispute between the U.S. and North Korea. North Korea Special Weapons Guide

Background and details on North Korea's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and facilities, as well as the extent of the country's missile technologies.

Chronology: North Korean Nuclear Developments

From the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies, this timeline covers events from 1947 to 1999.

IAEA: Korea Resources

Information about the International Atomic Energy Association's activities in North Korea, including reports, fact sheets, and background on the various issues.

CEIP: Korean Peninsula

A compilation of various resources from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), including issue briefs, links to treaties and international agreements, and the CIA's biannual report to Congress titled "Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Advanced Conventional Munitions." Of note is the chapter on North Korea from CEIP's publication "Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Monterey Institute of International Studies: North Korea Special Collection

Many articles about the standoff between the U.S. and North Korea, from the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies. Among other articles and features, the site includes links to maps of suspected nuclear facilities, along with research papers that explore how some U.S. allies view the conflict.

Workshop on North Korea's Nuclear Program

The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace co-sponsored this January 2003 workshop on North Korea's nuclear program. Several research papers from the workshop -- about how to negotiate with the North Koreans and the state of their facilities, among other topics -- are available online.

Report: "Ballistic Missiles and Missile Defense in Asia" (PDF)

In this June 2002 report, researchers from the National Bureau of Asian Research compare North Korea's missile capabilities with those of its neighbors and detail Pyongyang's efforts to sell and acquire further missile technology.

NTI: North Korea Country Profile

From the Nuclear Threat Initiative, this site includes information on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons development in North Korea. Along with maps of the suspected facilities, it also has information about North Korea's exports and imports of weapons technology.

The New Yorker: "The Cold Test"

This article by Seymour Hersh examines the links between Pakistan -- an important U.S. ally on the war on terrorism -- and North Korea's nuclear program. Hersh traces the successive U.S. administrations' failed diplomacy and faulty intelligence about the North Korean program, and quotes a recent conversation with an American intelligence official: "[The official] cautioned against relying on the day-to-day Administration statements that emphasize a quick settlement of the dispute. ... 'Bush and Cheney want that guy's head' -- Kim Jong Il's -- 'on a platter. Don't be distracted by all this talk about negotiations. There will be negotiations, but they have a plan, and they are going to get this guy after Iraq. He's their version of Hitler.'" (The New Yorker, Jan. 27, 2003)



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