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This picture shows where my work was in the DPRK. Yongbyon (Nyongbyon) is the location of the DPRK's atomic bomb program. They, with the help of the Russians, built a copy of a British nuclear reactor that the DPRK is basing their nuclear weapons program on. Fuel from this reactor has produced enough weapons grade plutonium for a few atomic bombs. Whether they have assembled the weapons is open to argument. Possession of the weapons grade plutonium is the hard part. With a few tens of pounds of high grade plutonium, the assembly of nuclear weapons is only a matter of time and effort.
One reactors worth of fuel is currently stored as in-tact fuel in Yongbyon. The DPRK has agreed to trade this fuel and their weapons program for two modern nuclear power plants. The exact details, scope and wording of the agreement are still (1997) under intense negotiation. The western style reactors are not suitable for producing weapons grade plutonium. Plutonium weapons (Nagasaki), because of nuclear properties, are much more difficult to produce than uranium weapons (Hiroshima). Plutonium, reprocessed from a western style reactor, contains higher atomic weight isotopes which make it very difficult to fabricate into an effective weapon.
The reactors, funded by the Japanese and South Koreans, will be exchanged for the fuel currently stored in the pool in Yongbyon after construction of the power plants has progressed.
If you have any interest in some totally amateur video I shot in the DPRK, E-mail me for details. It includes Pyongyang, the 50th workers party celebration, and a little of the countryside for $30 US. The worker's celebration alone is well worth seeing. The still photos just don't do it justice.
Here are some other links for information and tourism in the DPRK:
|http://www.wtgonline.com/country/kp/gen.html||Travel / Tourism Information|
|lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/nktoc.html||North Korea a country study|
|www.kcna.co.jp/||Official news from DPRK radio|
|cns.miis.edu/cns/dprkd2.html||Center for Nonproliferation Studies|
|http://www.kimsoft.com/dprk.htm||Good collection of DPRK links|
|http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~felsing/kstuff/nkshelf.html||Council on East Asian Libraries|
|http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/95fact/kn.html||CIA World Factbook - 1995|
I don't endorse any of these links. Some of them have a decidedly DPRK spin on them - particularly the translations from the DPRK shortwave broadcasts. (Check out the official report on the submarine incident . The western press reported that the DPRK "apologized" for the incident.)
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Alan D. Miller