North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a ballistic rocket launch in Pyongyang on March 11. U.S. and South Korean officials believe the North has developed nuclear weapons that threaten Japan and South Korea. NORTH KOREA'S KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY (KCNA)/REUTERS
June Park and J. Berkshire Miller, East Asia Forum: Is North Korea’s nuclear tech for sale?
As North Korea’s economic position worsens, the risk that it sells its nuclear weapons technology grows. Pyongyang conducted its fifth nuclear test on 9 September, accompanied by claims it has developed a warhead that can be mounted onto rockets. This test is estimated to have been at a yield of 25–30 kilotons — significantly larger than previous tests.
While the magnitude of the test alarmed some US policymakers, Washington’s foreign policy remains focused on the Middle East. Similarly, North Korea’s subsequent missile tests that ended in failure on 15 and 20 October gained little attention.
There appears to be a de facto acceptance by some in the Obama administration that North Korea will not agree to denuclearise — regardless of the concessions. Earlier this month, Obama’s top intelligence chief, James Clapper, remarked at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations that ‘the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearise is probably a lost cause’. Despite Clapper’s remarks, the Obama administration as a whole continues to insist that a nuclear North Korea is not an option regardless of their unwillingness to disarm.
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WNU Editor: These concerns have been around for a long time, but at the moment I just do not see North Korea selling an atomic bomb. Their stockpile is small, and I they are probably treating each of these weapons as a vital strategic deterrent. But as to the question of selling the know how and technology .... I can easily see them doing that. But the question is .... who will spend the money to do so. Iran appears to no longer be interested .... and everyone else is treating North Korea as the plague. And as for terror groups and criminal organisations .... they want a finished product, not the know-how.