The “small, but proud nation” managed this Friday to shock the whole world, having declared continuation of its nuclear whims, of which the first was the withdrawal from the Non-proliferation Treaty, which automatically makes North Korea independent on MAGATE, the agency looking after nuclear materials production. While the second demarch was the Pyongyang declaration it does not exclude its ballistic missile tests to be continued.
The latter piece of news could be in turn divided into a “good” and a “bad” ones. It is good, that North Korea’s return to the tests is only a kind a method to press upon the US to soften its position towards Korea. If the bilateral relations become better, there will be probably any tests at all. On the other hand, the US is not inclined to temper justice with mercy, so Kim Jong Il hardly can account on the US good relation to North Korea.
Which is bad, is that within all these years, North Korea had to create its nuclear forces secretly, with almost primitive methods. As a result, the first ballistic missile test ended with nothing. August 31, 1998, the world community was shocked to know North Korea had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile which flew over Japan and fell in ocean. Pyongyang reported it had been an unsuccessful attempt to launch a satellite, though already in the early 1980s, the North Korea aspiration for possession of nuclear force was obvious, though masked with a civil nuclear programme on building two nuclear reactors with the USSR assistance.
In 1974, Korean specialists modernized a low-powered Soviet reactor and turned it into an 8-megawatt one, which could create 80-percent plutonium for military aims. While in the early 1980-s, in Yonbeng, a 50-megawatt nuclear reactor was put in power. Koreans are supposed to create a nuclear bomb of plutonium, trying to mask their attempt under a civil programme, for creation of an uranium bomb demands building of a great infrastructure. Within 24 hours, the reactor is supposed to produce one gram of plutonium on every megawatt of the power, therefore within one year, it can produce up to 20 kg, which is enough for 4 or 5 charges. While within the whole time, Kim Jong Il could have collected already over 250 kg of battle raw materials, enough for 63 bombs. Nobody can guarantee these bombs exist as well as no catastrophe will during their tests.
Moreover, there is a global aspect: how the relations between North Korea and the rest of the world will continue, if it possesses nuclear weapon? And this is what the US tries not to permit.
Today, there are two ways how the US-North-Korean relation can develop: black oil supplies are recommenced to North Korea according to the agreements or the conflict will have a force development.
In 1994, the US and some other countries (including Japan and South Korea), trying to force out Russian atom energy from North Korea, concluded an agreement with Pyongyang about creation by 2003 a reactor of a new kind, which is unable to feel military atom. A bit earlier, the US promised, according to the 1994 agreement, to supply black oil to North Korea. While so far, there is only a fundament for the power station and fuel supplies were stopped last autumn after a talk with James Kelly in North Korean Foreign Ministry. According to Americans, they were told North Korea was working at programmes of weapons of mass destruction.
Though, Kim Jong Il has no alternative: North Korea needs fuel, while cold, much faster than hunger, makes people organize mass protests and ruins the country, including its industry. Kim Jong Il can stake his all, menacing with probably-not-existing weapon, and lose his all, though war is hardly worse for Koreans than the calm freezing. While he also can win: at least even a cat can be a real beast, driven to a corner.
Translated by Vera Solovieva