A panel associated with the United Nations Security Council has found that North Korea has maintained its nuclear weapons program and that it can probably put nuclear warheads on the ballistic missiles that it recently launched. Even more concerning, the panel found that North Korea likely upgraded its weapons capabilities in 2020, the economic devastation of the pandemic notwithstanding.
The report, per UPI, came from a panel of experts associated with the UN Security Council sanctions committee on North Korea. That special sanctions committee was established along with the 2006 Resolution 1718, which applied to North Korea’s nuclear program. The panel of experts was founded in 2009.
[I]t is highly likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on the intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it is also likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on the medium-range ballistic missiles and short-range ballistic missiles,” the report said, per UPI.
The report was unclear, however, on whether the ballistic missiles possessed by North Korea were “resistant to the heat generated during re-entry.”
Despite the pandemic, North Korea managed to improve its weapons capabilities last year, the report said. It concluded that North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research center is capable of producing about seven kilograms of plutonium per year, and the North Koreans may possess sixty kilograms of plutonium.
According to Joon Gang Daily, North Korea “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” and “continued to seek material and technology for these programs from overseas,” per the new UN report.
The report added that while there has been no sign of the reactor operating since 2018, other “activity” has taken place there. The country has also supported their ambitions through such illegal activities as smuggling, hacking, and the theft of cryptocurrency. The regime stole about $316 million worth of virtual assets in the year that ended in November 2020, the UN report said.
But that wasn’t all. The North Koreans “continued illicit import of refined petroleum, via direct deliveries and ship-to-ship transfers, using elaborate subterfuge” in 2020, putting North Korea over the limit of imported oil proscribed by existing U.N. sanctions.
The Kim regime “has not only continued to develop and modernize its ballistic missile program but has also increased its nuclear strike capability, as well as its ability to counter foreign missile defense systems while safeguarding itself with its own new air defense system,” the experts said.
North Korea, of course, also violated UN resolutions with their recent ballistic missile launch. The UN Security Council, however, did not take action following that launch, following a meeting. The U.S. Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, condemned the launch at the UN this week.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters.