The atomic bomb crazy but poor country, North Korea, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. This time around, a study carried out by think tank Institute for Science and International Security claims that North Korea is busy in developing more nuclear weapons. The process is going on secretly and according to the study, North Korea can develop an arsenal of up to 48 nuclear weapons if the program goes unchecked. The report also claims that the number of arsenals would be several times more than the country has now. The nuclear program of North Korea is a headache for the international community, as it poses serious and immediate threat to the security and stability of South Korea.
It may be pertinent to mention here that the United States has invested billions of dollars in South Korea in the last couple of years. US officials believe that the nuclear North Korea is not in their interests and therefore they have been seriously trying to reach an agreement with Pyongyang. The US wanted Pyongyang to roll back its nuclear program and offered financial assistance and security guarantees from South Korea.
Back in 2005 and 2007, Pyongyang agreed to stop its nuclear activities and even offered to roll back its nuclear program in return for financial aid and security guarantees, but unfortunately the agreements could not last long owing to certain reasons. The US believes that North Korea has full support from China and Russia that is why the county has been offering different excuses to halt the nuclear program. It is not in the interest of any other country in the world as well because North Korea and Iran have been encouraging other third world countries as well to go for nuclear weapons. However, Russia and China have their vested interests in nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran; therefore, they have been supporting them openly.
North Korea first tested its nuclear capability in 2006 and is likely to produce between six and 18 nuclear weapons through a plutonium program. Satellite imagery acquired by the think tank suggests that Pyongyang has been pursuing work on a light-water reactor that can help the country to produce weapons grade plutonium. It is pertinent to mention here that officially the reactor is for civilian purposes and there are high chances of it being used for production of weapons-grade plutonium. The country has also been constructing a uranium enrichment plant to produce fuel for the new reactor.
However, the international community should revisit stalled negotiation process with Pyongyang, as dialogue is the only way forward. The United States should also convince China for the rollback of North Korea’s nuclear program, as China is a key stakeholder in the issue.