May 26, 2009

North Korean Yield Revised

Jeff over at, has posted a nice set of estimates of the yield for the NORK test. They all cluster in an Mb range of 4.5-5.0 -- about 2-6 kilotons.

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May 25, 2009

In depth analysis: North Korea

The Project for the CTBT has a calculation from Martin Kalinowski:
The U.S. Geological Survey readings indicate a seismic body wave of magnitude of 4.7, which is larger as compared to the value of 4.1 ± 0.1 in 2006. According a preliminary assessment by Martin Kalinowski of the University of Hamburg, this corresponds to an explosive yield of about 3 to 8 kilotons TNT equivalent with a most likely yield of 4 kt. In 2006. The yield of the 2006 test explosion was approximately 0.5 to 0.8 kt TNT equivalent.

Here is Kalinowski's fact sheet.

For more wonky level coverage, make sure you follow Arms Control Wonk.

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North Korea conducts a second nuclear test

Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed an atomic explosion at 9:54 a.m. (0054 GMT) in northeastern North Korea, estimating the blast's yield at 10 to 20 kilotons - comparable to the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Monday's atomic test was conducted about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of the northern city of Kilju, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky said, speaking on state-run Rossiya television. Here is a Google Earth kmz of the test site.

Kilju, in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong, is where North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in October 2006.

Pyongyang is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least a half-dozen atomic bombs. However, experts say scientists have not yet mastered the miniaturization needed to mount a nuclear device onto a long-range missile.

Hours later, the regime test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air missiles, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed sources. U.N. Security Council resolutions bar North Korea from engaging in any ballistic missile-related activity. [via and Arms Control Wonk]

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April 14, 2009

North Korea quits nuclear talks

North Korea said on Tuesday it would quit international nuclear disarmament talks and restart a plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium after the United Nations chastised it for launching a long-range rocket.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously condemned North Korea's launch on April 5 as contravening a U.N. ban, and demanded enforcement of existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

Prickly North Korea said in a Foreign Ministry statement that the U.N. action and separate six-country nuclear talks were an infringement of its sovereignty and it "will never participate in the (nuclear) talks any longer nor ... be bound to any agreement of the six-party talks." [via Yahoo! News]

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July 25, 2008

North Korea Pledges to Meet Obligations Under Nuclear Agreement

North Korea pledged to honor its commitments under a deal that will end its nuclear weapons program and demanded that the other five countries involved in the agreement do the same.

North Korea agreed in February 2007 to disable its nuclear programs in return for normal diplomatic ties with the U.S. and Japan and economic aid equivalent to 1 million metric tons of heavy fuel oil. Kim Jong Il's regime, which conducted a nuclear test in October 2006, complained last month about the slow pace of energy assistance.

As part of the new agreement, North Korea will complete by October the disabling of its five-megawatt reactor and fuel reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, which was used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. At the same time, the remaining members of the forum will complete delivery of the heavy fuel oil.

North Korea has said that while it has disabled 80 percent of its Yongbyon plant, only 40 percent of the promised energy aid has been delivered. Japan has refused to provide fuel oil before the resolution of the case of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 1980s. [via]


June 27, 2008

Yongbyon Tower is Blown Up

North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program Friday, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor in a sign of its commitment to stop making plutonium for atomic bombs.

U.S. State Department officials and observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) watched from a reviewing stand on a ridge about 1,000 yards away, she said.

"This is a very significant disablement step," the U.S. envoy to North Korea, Sung Kim, said.

Nuclear experts say that the plant's destroyed central water-cooling tower would take a year or longer to rebuild if North Korea were to try using the plant again. [via]


June 17, 2008

Did Pakistan Test a North Korean Bomb?

Jeffery looks into the issue of during the 1998 Pakistani nuclear tests, was at least one of the devices use North Korean supplied plutonium. A good read and insight. Maybe there will be some answers in the NK's disclosures? [via]

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June 02, 2008

North Korea Details Size of Plutonium Stockpile

In documents recently delivered to the United States, North Korea indicated that it has produced 37 kilograms of plutonium, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Pyongyang had previously said it had produced 30 kilograms while U.S. intelligence agencies put the amount between 40 and 50 kilograms. Varying estimates have found that North Korea could produce between six and 10 nuclear weapons with its plutonium; it tested one weapon in October 2006.

U.S. officials are not yet accepting the latest figures, contained in more than 18,000 pages of documents submitted as a prelude to the regime’s declaration of its atomic activities and holdings. State Department officials said they would need several weeks to examine all the documents. [via Nuclear Threat Initiative]

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April 19, 2008

Korean Nuclear Declaration Could Arrive This Month

North Korea appears ready to issue a full declaration of its nuclear holdings and activities this month, Bloomberg reported.

The list was expected Dec. 31 as part of the second phase of North Korean denuclearization, for which the isolated nation stands to receive economic, diplomatic and security benefits. However, the process has stumbled amid U.S. assertions that Pyongyang had failed to address key segments of its nuclear program.

Envoys from Pyongyang and Washington reportedly reached a tentative deal last week under which North Korea would provide details of its plutonium-based programs while acknowledging U.S. suspicions regarding uranium enrichment efforts and support for a Syrian nuclear program. [via Nuclear Threat Initiative]

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January 02, 2008

North Korea miss Dec 31 declaration deadline

Well it is now January 2nd, and North Korea as expected North Korea missed the deadline for "providing a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear programs."

Although, this would a have made a great New Year's gift, this issue doesn't seem to as troublesome as Faux News would tell the world, yet.

For some much better thoughts on this take a read at and the Reuter's story about it.

I would write more about it, but today my twins turn 7!


November 01, 2007

Inspectors in North Korea

A team of US atomic inspectors arrived in North Korea on Thursday after expressing confidence that the historic disablement of the isolated nation's nuclear facilities would go smoothly.

North Korea has pledged to begin taking apart its nuclear facilities, going further than it ever has before in meeting foreign pressure to scrap atomic capabilities it has been building up since the 1950s.

The nine-member US team arrived in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on a flight from Beijing, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said.

They are destined for the main Yongbyon atomic reactor where they will supervise disablement work expected to begin next week. [via Yahoo! News]

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October 19, 2007

US to begin disabling North Korean nuclear program in three weeks

US experts are to begin disabling North Korea's nuclear weapons arsenal in about three weeks, the State Department said Thursday following talks in Pyongyang.

The timeframe was given by Sung Kim, the head of the US State Department's Korea desk, who completed talks with North Korean officials on the nuclear disablement mission, said Tom Casey, a department spokesman.

North Korea agreed earlier this month to disable key facilities at the Yongbyon complex and declare all other nuclear programs by the end of the year.

In exchange for these actions, China, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia would supply North Korea with energy and other aid and offer up diplomatic concessions to the isolated nation. [ via Yahoo! News]

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October 18, 2007


Jeffery weighs in on the recent Israeli attack on 'something' in Syria. As always, a good read @ armscontrol.wonk

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October 08, 2007

North Korea to disable nuclear program

North Korea pledged last Wednesday to detail its nuclear programs and disable all activities at its main reactor complex by the end of the year, its firmest commitment to disarm after decades seeking to develop the world's deadliest weapons.

Under an agreement reached in February, Pyongyang was required to shut down and seal its sole operating reactor at its main nuclear complex, which it did in July after the U.S. reversed its hard-line policy against the regime. The second phase required it to disable the reactor and provide a full description of all its nuclear programs. Wednesday's agreement calls for that to happen by the end of the year.

The North said it would allow the U.S. to lead a group of experts to Pyongyang within two weeks "to prepare for disablement" of its nuclear facilities, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said in Beijing. The U.S. wants the dismantling process to be so thorough that a nuclear facility could not be made operational for at least 12 months.

The United States was secretive about what it promised in return.

The U.S. has agreed to lead disablement activities and provide the initial funding for them. Washington also reiterated its willingness to remove North Korea from a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, a key demand of Pyongyang.

No timetable was set for this action, but a joint statement said it will happen "in parallel with" the North Korean government following through on its commitment. [via Yahoo! News]

China's MFA has the text of the "Second-Phase Actions for the Implementation of the [September 2005] Joint Statement."

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July 31, 2007

North Korea Cooperating With Nuclear Inspectors, IAEA Says

U.N. inspectors completed the first stage of shuttering North Korea's main nuclear reactor without any resistance from Pyongyang, the Associated Press reported today.

"We have a full cooperation with the D.P.R.K. authorities," said departing International Atomic Energy Agency inspector Adel Tolba. Tolba and his nine-member team supervised the initial shutdown of the main Yongbyon nuclear reactor. They were replaced Saturday by a fresh group of six agency inspectors. [via Nuclear Threat Initiative]

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July 22, 2007

North Korea: Nuclear talks end without timeline

Talks aimed at shutting down North Korea's nuclear weapons program ended Thursday with no concrete timeline and a host of difficult questions obscuring the road ahead.

But a year-end deadline proposed by the US delegation for North Korea to come clean on its nuclear weapons stockpile, atomic research programs, stored components, secret facilities, and other capabilities proved elusive.

North Korea pledged in February to dismantle its atomic weapons capability in return for aid, trade, and diplomatic recognition.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he still believed a full North Korean disclosure was possible by late December. "But obviously it's going to be difficult," Hill, the chief US negotiator, told reporters before leaving Beijing.
Chinese officials said the parties agreed to convene working groups on several technical issues by the end of August.
They also agreed to hold another round of six-nation talks by September and move to schedule a ministerial meeting as soon as possible thereafter in a bid to maintain momentum.

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July 14, 2007

North Korea shuts down Yongbyon reactor

North Korea has told the United States it has shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facilities, the State Department said on Saturday.

"We welcome this development and look forward to the verification and monitoring of this shutdown by the International Atomic Energy Agency team that has arrived in" North Korea, said spokesman Sean McCormack.

North Korea said last week it would consider suspending the operation of its nuclear facilities as soon as it received the first shipment of oil from South Korea under the February 13 aid-for-disarmament deal. [via Yahoo! News]

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July 09, 2007

IAEA and North Korea - Inspection Plan

The United Nations nuclear agency is set to approve an inspections plan for North Korea, a key step in turning the Korean Peninsula into an atomic weapons-free zone.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors convened an extraordinary meeting today in Vienna. The diplomats will approve the agency's budget and details of the inspection team's mission in North Korea.

"Following the board's approval, we hope that IAEA inspectors will be able to return quickly to North Korea," U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte said today in a briefing. "The shutdown of the facilities at Yongbyon, together with IAEA monitoring and verification, will be an important step toward achieving the common goal of a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons." [via IAEA and]

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June 18, 2007

North Korean Reactor shutdown?

North Korea plans to seal its nuclear reactor, the source of weapons-grade plutonium, in the second half of July, Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing an unidentified North Korean diplomatic source.

Despite more than two months of delay in beginning the dismantlement of the North's atomic program, it would still be possible to complete the nuclear disarmament of the communist state by the end of the year, the chief U.S. nuclear envoy said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said on Monday a senior delegation would visit the North next week to agree on details for a return of its inspectors to monitor Pyongyang's promised nuclear shutdown.

"To stop the reactor, it will take about a month according to our specialists," the North Korean source was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"So we are counting on sealing it in the second half of July, in accordance with the agreements reached at the six-party talks," the source said. That Beijing forum brings together the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

The Interfax report comes as North Korea said at the weekend it had invited IAEA inspectors into the country as part of the six-party deal reached in February to shut down the Soviet-era Yongbyon reactor in exchange for aid.

The diplomatic source said the IAEA delegation would be present at the first stage of stopping the reactor. [via Yahoo! News]

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April 17, 2007

North Korean Reactor shutdown?

North Korea may be preparing to shut down its main nuclear reactor, news reports said Tuesday, renewing hopes that Pyongyang will comply with a disarmament agreement days after it missed a deadline to shutter the facility.

The Yongbyon reactor was still in operation, but there was a high possibility that movement of cars and people at the site seen in satellite photos could be linked to a shutdown, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed intelligence official. The Dong-a Ilbo daily carried a similar report. [via CBS News]

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March 27, 2007

CIA says North Korea nuclear test a failure

North Korea's nuclear test last October was a failure and gives no credence to Pyongyang's claim to being a nuclear weapons state, U.S. CIA Director Michael Hayden was quoted as saying by a South Korean newspaper on Wednesday.

"The United States does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state," Hayden was quoted as saying by a South Korean defense official in the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper. "It's because the nuclear test last year was a failure." [via Yahoo!]

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March 22, 2007

North Korea nuclear talks on hold

International talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions broke down Thursday over a financial dispute, a twist that could imperil a fragile disarmament process.

Negotiators from the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China met Monday with the aim of fine-tuning ways to implement a hard-fought February 13 agreement under which the North would ultimately fully disclose and dismantle all its nuclear programs.

The deal had touched off cautious optimism that progress could be made, but this week's talks never got off the ground because of a drawn out dispute over the transfer of North Korean funds that had been frozen in Banco Delta Asia, a lender in the Chinese territory of Macau. [via

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March 14, 2007

ElBaradei upbeat on N. Korea talks

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, described the talks on how North Korea will close its main atomic reactor as "quite useful."

"They said they are fully committed to the February 13 agreement, that they are ready to work with the agency to make sure that we monitor and verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon facility," he said, adding officials in Pyongyang also "reiterated they are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." [via]

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February 13, 2007

North Korea Deal Reached

The White House on Tuesday said the six-party deal on North Korea's nuclear program was an important first step toward Pyongyang's denuclearization.

North Korea agreed to move on nuclear disarmament under a pact that will bring it about $300 million worth of aid.

"We think it's a very important first step toward the denuclearization of North Korea and the Korean peninsula," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

North Korea will shut the Yongbyon reactor complex at the heart of its nuclear program and allow international inspectors onto the site as part of a disarmament plan reached at six-party talks among the two Koreas, United States, China, Japan and Russia. [via Yahoo!]

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February 12, 2007

North Korea Deal?

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on initial steps for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, the U.S. envoy to the talks said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the agreement outlined specific commitments for North Korea and would set up working groups to implement those goals to begin meeting in about a month. He declined to give other details. [via]

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February 08, 2007

6 Party Talk underway

China has distributed a draft agreement to the countries at international talks seeking to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, a South Korean official said early Friday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing diplomacy, gave no details of the draft. However, other delegates said earlier the agreement would outline initial steps for implementing a September 2005 agreement from the six-nation talks where Pyongyang pledged to disarm in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

"We had a good first day today," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters Thursday evening after North Korea agreed in principle to take initial steps toward dismantling its nuclear programs.

"We hope we can achieve some kind of joint statement here," he said. [via Yahoo! News]

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January 26, 2007

New North Korean Talk?

The next round of the six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program is likely to open in the second week of next month, with optimism for a substantial agreement, as both the United States and North Korea appear positive on future negotiations. [via Yahoo! News]

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