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North Korea, nuclear proliferation and the AQ Khan network

By Vikas
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Google Oneindia News

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North Korea owes its Nuclear capabilities to USSR and Pakistan | Oneindia News

North Korea's frequent threats to the US and Kim Jong-un's war of words with Donald Trump have been making headlines for quite some time now. Some view North Korea as a threat to global peace, especially Japan and South Korea. Japan and South Korea have left no stone unturned to approach the UN to impose sanctions on Pyongyang in hope that it may rein in Kim's ambitions.

Whether maverick Kim will actually invite war or will just be content with chest thumping is something that remains to be seen.

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and the AQ Khan network

More that Pyongyang's missile capabilities, what is most worrying is the nuclear capability they have got. North's Hydrogen bomb testing in September has left even the most powerful nation in the world - the US- worried. What is more worrying is that Pyongyang's claim that they have developed a nuclear device that can be launched on a missile of intermediate or intercontinental range.

North Korea's nuclear program:

Although the efforts to develop nuclear technology by North Korea by began in the 1950s, the program got a major boost only after North Korea and the USSR signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in 1959.

In 1962, Soviet Union helped North Korea set up its first nuclear research facility - Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. The Soviets even helped North Korea set up its first nuclear reactor in 1964. The reactor was used to produce radioactive isotopes for medicinal, industrial and research purposes.

But in the years that followed, the country began to explore weapons capabilities, summoning its best scientists home from different parts of the world. In the '70s and '80s, North Korea set about acquiring sensitive nuclear technologies from Europe.

Then, the efforts were focused on Plutonium separation plant. N Korea also sent its scientists to different countries to learn more about the nuclear technology and slowly North Korea moved away from plutonium-based nuclear weapons to uranium-based ones.

North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006, at Punggye-ri Test Site. The yield of the first test was said to be between 0.7 - 2 KT. Then in 2009, 2013 and 2016 (two tests), North Korea conducted more nuclear test. The sixth and last till date test came on September 3, 2017, which North Korea claimed was a Hydrogen Bomb. South Korean Government's initial yield estimate is 100 kt, and it detected a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Tremors caused were at least 10 times as powerful as the last time Pyongyang exploded an atomic bomb a year ago.

North Korea, Pakistan and the AQ Khan network:

North Korea and Pakistan began to share missile expertise in 1992. In 1993, December, former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto initiated a deal with North Korea for Nodong missiles. Pakistan, at that time, was also worried about India's rapid advances in missile technology.

Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan then stepped in to provide Pakistan with an alternative nuclear weapons delivery option by obtaining intermediate-range liquid-fuel ballistic missiles from North Korea.

In November 1995, North Korea and Pakistan apparently struck a deal for 12-25, Nodong missiles, and at least one transporter erector launcher or mobile erector launcher, 44 the delivery of which reportedly began in 1996-97. It is widely assumed that the provision of centrifuge technology was part of the deal and was given to North Korea in exchange for the Nodong missiles, according to a book "A.Q. Khan and onward proliferation from Pakistan".

AQ Khan is also said to have helped Iran in developing nuclear weapons technology. AQ Khan's nuclear network came to light when American intelligence operatives about five giant cargo containers full of specialized centrifuge parts being loaded into one of the nondescript vessels that ply the Straits of Malacca.

The shipment was later seized near Suez Canal. That seizure led to the unravelling of a trading network that sent bomb-making designs and equipment to at least three countries -- Iran, North Korea and Libya.

OneIndia News

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