Pyongyang’s Dangerous Game of Nuclear Chicken

Pyongyang’s Dangerous Game of Nuclear Chicken
Vol: 15 Issue: 26 Thursday, December 26, 2002

It appears that Pyongyang really does intend to push the envelope and see whether or not the Bush administration has the stomach for a little game of nuclear chicken. On Christmas Day, the IAEA announced the North Koreans moved fresh fuel to its newly-unsealed nuclear reactor.

“We had noticed yesterday that they were carrying out work at the 5-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon.” the UN agency’s spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. ”And we noticed that they were moving fresh fuel to the reactor.”

He added that North Korean technicians had broken most of the seals and disabled UN surveillance devices at all four nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. The cameras had been monitoring the secretive Stalinist state’s compliance with a 1994 shutdown of the plants.

“North Korea estimates that [the 5 megawatt reactor] could be up and running in one to two months” or longer, he said.

The IAEA is also worried about the plutonium storage and reprocessing facilities at the Yongbyon complex. A storage pond there holds some 8,000 spent irradiated fuel rods, which contain large amounts of plutonium.

“The reprocessing plant could have absolutely no civilian use for North Korea,” Gwozdecky said.

The facilities at Yongbyon were frozen under a 1994 agreement with the United States under which North Korea halted its nuclear arms program in exchange for oil shipments and the construction of two atomic reactors that are difficult to use for military purposes.

But the United States, South Korea, and other states suspended oil shipments to North Korea this month after revelations in October that it was operating a separate nuclear weapons program using highly enriched uranium.

On Saturday, North Koreans began removing the seals and disabling UN monitoring cameras at the 5-megawatt Yongbyon reactor after the IAEA failed to meet Pyongyang’s demand that it take away the gear so it could revive the reactor.

US intelligence officials say enough weapons-grade plutonium had already been produced at Yongbyon to build two nuclear weapons by the time the plant was closed in 1994.

Assessment:

Some US intelligence analysts believe the Pyongyang is just playing another game of ‘chicken’. In 1994, North Korea was successful in blackmailing the Clinton administration into paying them NOT to make nuclear weapons. When the US found out last month that Pyongyang was cheating, it cut off the payments.

North Korea is saying it is unsealing its reactors BECAUSE we cut off the energy deliveries, although the reason we cut off the energy deliveries is BECAUSE they unsealed the reactors.

This kind of ‘chicken or the egg’ diplomatic style is typical of the North Koreans, and it worked well in years past. But the only US administration Kim Jong Il knows is the Clinton administration. That Kim Jong Il is, to use the technical term, totally nuts, is a matter of record.

He lives in an alternate universe of his own where he spends his time building castles in the air — and then orders his starving population to live in them.

His defense minister, Kim Il Chol, took to the airwaves yesterday to exhort his people to become ‘human bombs’ in the event of war over its nuclear program.

Christmas Day is over and now its time to go back to the real world. And its a scary one. Here’s the sitrep in a nutshell. In Kim Jong Il, we have a complete nutcase who possesses missiles capable of hitting targets 5,000 miles away who is believed to already possess several nuclear devices.

With the plutonium available from the Yongbong reactor, Kim could produce six more right away. With all three reactors open, Kim could produce enough plutonium for fifty or sixty bombs by the end of the year.

It isn’t so much the danger Kim would use his nukes preemptively that makes the North Korean situation potentially more catastrophic than Iraq.

North Korea is starving. Flat broke.

Kim wants blackmail money from the US in exchange for resealing its reactors, or Kim says he will sell off his plutonium to the highest bidder. And there are no shortage of bidders, from the belligerent Arab states in the Middle East to Osama bin-Laden.

But the Bush administration isn’t the Clinton administration, and we aren’t living in the 1990’s anymore.

This entry was posted in Briefings by Pete Garcia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pete Garcia

Christian, father, husband, veteran, pilot, and sinner saved by grace. I am a firm believer in, and follower of Jesus Christ. I am Pre-Trib, Dispensational, and Non-Denominational (but I lean Southern Baptist).

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