It was evaluated that all possible nuclear activities in North Korea are currently in progress.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretary-General Rafael Grossi said at an online seminar by the Stimson Foundation in the United States on the 21st (local time), “North Korea’s nuclear facilities have become more advanced and geographically expanded than in 2009, when inspections were stopped.”
There are signs that Yongbyon and other facilities are operating.
“North Korea is doing everything it can in every area imaginable,” he said.
“The verification and protection work that the IAEA will face will be huge, so you have to be prepared,” he said.
Earlier, the IAEA said in its annual board report in September that “there are circumstances consistent with the operation of the reactor, including the discharge of coolant from early July 2021, with respect to the 5 MW (megawatt) reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility.”
Will North Korea conduct another nuclear test?
North Korea’s last nuclear test was the sixth test in 2017.
It is customary and a common belief in the nuclear science community that, after conducting six nuclear tests, there is no need to do any more.
Experts are of the opinion that it is sufficient if it has conducted such an experiment, and that it can be viewed as a de facto nuclear power.
In fact, the United Nations and the international community have imposed high-strength sanctions against North Korea in the wake of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.
Kwak Gil-seop, an adjunct professor at Kookmin University, who served as a North Korean analyst at the South Korean National Intelligence Service, told BBC Korea, “If you are not satisfied with the sixth nuclear test, you can do it one last time, but you can keep the ambiguity.”
The possibility of an additional nuclear test to increase the purity of 100% cannot be completely ruled out, but it is not a card that is likely to emerge.
The ultimate goal is to become a ‘nuclear power’
Professor Kwak Kil-seop classified the purpose of North Korea’s nuclear test into three categories: ◇Advancement of military power (nuclear power), ◇Strengthening negotiating power, and ◇For threats against South Korea and the United States.
First, the most important goal for North Korea is the practical strengthening of its military power. It is a matter of the survival of the system, and it is an activity that takes place all the time under any circumstances.
Professor Kwak pointed out, “Many people are missing this part.”
The second is to gain an edge in negotiations. In this case, various economic-diplomatic benefits can be taken.
Professor Kwak said, “That’s why North Korea keeps showing signs of nuclear activity and actually mentions it.” “As Chairman Kim Jong-un mentioned building a real nuclear power at the 8th party congress in January, this activity has no choice but to continue.” emphasized.
It is being used not only as a threat to South Korea and the US, but also as a means of negotiation.
This is why it was possible to hold the North Korea-US summit in Singapore and Hanoi earlier. At that time, the two countries were negotiating over the Yongbyon nuclear facility and Plus Alpha in North Korea.
Professor Kwak explained, “Even now, North Korea’s nuclear program is the best negotiating tool.
“North Korea expects the US to come out with a bigger gift package, such as lifting sanctions against North Korea and withdrawing its hostile policy,” he said. will see,” he predicted.
“The timing and method will be decided in line with the phase of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February next year, which the Korean government is so looking forward to,” he observed.
South Korea and the United States exchange opinions on end-of-war declaration
Meanwhile, it is reported that US State Department special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, will visit South Korea on the 23rd and hold a meeting with the South Korean and US North Korean nuclear chiefs on the 24th.
Kim was originally scheduled to enter the country on the 22nd, but it was postponed by one day.
It is known that the two countries are exchanging views on the content of the declaration to end the war in order to lead North Korea to a forum of dialogue.
The Korean government has consistently explained to the United States the necessity of an end-of-war declaration.
A high-ranking South Korean government official reportedly said, “There was a consensus between South Korea and the United States that the declaration of an end to the war was very useful as an opportunity to start dialogue with North Korea,” right after the US-ROK-U.S.-Japan North Korean nuclear chiefs’ meeting in Washington on the 18th and 19th.
Therefore, it is expected that CEO Sung Kim will share with the South Korean side during this visit to Korea the position that the Biden administration has reviewed internally on the declaration of an end to the war.
Earlier, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on the 19th that “discussions on North Korea issues with the United States are being conducted more closely than ever before.”
Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong also said during a recent parliamentary audit by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “I expect that President Sung Kim, who will be visiting Korea soon, brings the US side with a clear stance on the declaration of an end to the Korean War.”