Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pyongyang Tehran Axis

For now, North Korea will remain somewhat trapped by its minimal plutonium supply. To make more, Pyongyang would have to restart its Yongbyon reactor. It will take approximately six months to prepare fuel for the reactor and to rebuild the cooling tower that the country destroyed last June as a symbolic gesture.

Once fueled, the reactor will produce 6 kilograms of plutonium, roughly one bomb's worth, per year for the next decade or so. Pyongyang is not currently capable of ramping up plutonium production from there.

The threat to develop its own light-water reactor is not a great concern for plutonium production, but it does likely signal that North Korea will now seriously explore uranium enrichment capabilities. But it would take many years for Pyongyang to develop the uranium route to the bomb.

Of course, there is a terrifying way that North Korea could overcome its limitation while simultaneously helping another nuclear aspirant:

It could work with Iran.

Pyongyang lacks uranium centrifuge materials, technology, and know-how; Tehran has mastered them. Pyongyang has practical uranium metallurgy capabilities; Tehran has little. Pyongyang has its own nuclear test data; Tehran does not.

Pyongyang knows all facets of plutonium technology; Tehran has little more than a plutonium-producing reactor under construction. Pyongyang helped Tehran establish a missile capability; now, Tehran's crash missile-test program and Pyongyang's long-range rocket tests could prove mutually beneficial.

Preventing escalation of nuclear and missile cooperation is critical to avoid destabilizing Northeast Asia and the Middle East. The urgency of this threat is underscored by North Korea's recent covert construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria and its extensive ongoing cooperation in missile technology with Iran.

At least in its nuclear reach, Pyongyang isn't quite as isolated as it seems.

Submitted by Dr Siggi S. Hecker

Art - "Spirit of Juche will humble Imperialist Yankee Aggressors"


mauryk2 said...

Coutney, I do think you want to deprive the poor North Koreans of their rice bowl. They'll never give up the weapons business because they have ABSOLUTELY nothing else going for them.

Findalis said...

It took the US 18 months to develop the Uranium bomb, that was from total scratch. 18 months! Both Iran and N. Korea can't even do it in years. The difference is the ability of Americans to solve complex problem (plus a whole bunch of Jews working on the project too).

mauryk2 said...

Findalis: What on earth do Jews have to do w/North Korea/ Otherwise, I agree w/you.

Findalis said...

Do you know how many Jews were on the Manhattan Project? That was why I put that in. Physics is a Jewish sport.