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North Korea Restarts Plutonium Production For Nuclear Bombs (arstechnica.com) 151

New submitter ReginaldBryan45 quotes a report from Reuters: North Korea has restarted production of plutonium fuel, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday, showing that it plans to pursue its nuclear weapons program in defiance of international sanctions. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAE) said on Monday that it had seen signs based on satellite imagery that show that the secretive country had re-activated the nuclear fuel production reactor at Yongbyon. The analysis by the IAEA pointed to "resumption of the activities of the five megawatt reactor, the expansion of centrifuge-related facility, [and] reprocessing -- these are some of the examples of the areas [of activity indicated at Yongbyon]." U.S. Intelligence tried to infect the Yongbyon site with a variant of the Stuxnet malware last year but ultimately failed. Experts at the U.S.-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington predicted last year that the country's nuclear arsenal could grow to as many as 100 bombs within five years, from an estimated 10 to 16. Naturally, this news is a cause for concern as North Korea had four (failed) test launches in the last two months.
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North Korea Restarts Plutonium Production For Nuclear Bombs

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  • Like Iran, North Korea used centrifuges obtained from the Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Khan, who led his own country's nuclear weapons effort.

    No body did anything about that then !

    • And here we are wondering why we haven't seen any alien civiliations that lived longer than us. We've only had nukes for less than a hundred years and some fruitcake with a funny hairdo is getting close to having enough power to destroy half the world. How much longer can we keep this up?

      • Half the world? Exaggerate much?

      • The fruitcake with a funny hairdo has so far only demonstrated enough to destroy a few city blocks.

        And of course should he do so outside his own borders, China will probably be dropping something on him faster than the USA could (Russia is the true power behind the NK throne, not China).

        There's not even any evidence that NK has managed to produce a nuclear weapon small enough to be loaded on top of the kinds of ballistic missile they're known to possess.

        The best way to deflate the NK threat is a stable and

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @11:39PM (#52272305)

    NK cyber team will hack the vote so trump does not win as he will crush NK.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      NK cyber team will hack the vote so trump does not win as he will crush NK.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06... [nytimes.com]

      http://www.foxnews.com/politic... [foxnews.com]

    • "NK cyber team will hack the vote so trump does not win as he will crush NK."

      But if the cyber team is too successful it will elect Sanders, who will bomb NK in grounds that the plutonium reactors could be used to generate power.

    • It seems Trumps policy is to abandon the region and leave South Korea and Japan to worry about the problem. Sounds more like he is happy to let North Korea go on their merry way.
      • It seems Trumps policy is to abandon the region and leave South Korea and Japan to worry about the problem. Sounds more like he is happy to let North Korea go on their merry way.

        No, his policy seems to be more oriented around getting those parties to pick up more of the tab for using the US military as their muscle. Which seems very reasonable. Obviously we (in the US) have a strong vested interest in not having chaos erupt there (we do tons of trade with Japan and South Korea, as well as their many neighbors), so it's not like we'd just leave. But there's no reason that J&K can't shoulder more of the costs. Much like Europe ought to.

    • On the opposite, NK cybers will hack the vote so that Trump wins ; WW3 is the best exit scenario for NK.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      After he has built that wall and taken care of ISIS... So actually, he will probably wreck his own country before he gets around to them.

  • Where Are (Score:4, Funny)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Tuesday June 07, 2016 @11:45PM (#52272333)

    Seth Rogen and James Franco when you need them?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The endless effort to make nuclear bombs will be worth your sacrifices and many deaths.

    The world will quake in fear.

    • Do you mean the sacrifices and many deaths involved in choosing to build nuclear weapons while millions starve; or the sacrifices and many deaths when their shiny new nuke blows up on the launch pad and irradiates a good chunk of their own country?
  • Tread Carefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2016 @12:50AM (#52272483) Homepage Journal

    Everything in history sets a precedent. As fun as destroying this country sounds, that should not be the defacto way of humanity. Someone needs to come up with a better solution because feature generations will use this as an example. Doing nothing is also not an option even though they are assuredly 98% hype. There's a real crime against humanity going on over there and no one really seems to be able to stop it..

    • The world is perfectly capable of stopping it, the only thing lacking is the will to do so.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        China and only China can stop them. The rest of your statement holds.

        • Re:Tread Carefully (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Duhavid ( 677874 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2016 @01:55AM (#52272601)
          And China has no real desire to stop them.
          • Re:Tread Carefully (Score:4, Interesting)

            by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2016 @02:39AM (#52272699)

            If the government of NK falls, it results in a flood of refugees. Most would want to go south, some would go north. China would have to deal with them. China's interest in NK lies in stability.

            • China created this problem, quite literally, and should be held accountable. If their trade with the US was in jeopardy then that might force them to actually deal with the mad dog of a country. North Korea is hell on Earth for the people unlucky to be born there. That China would feed the monster for their own comfort is evidence that the middle kingdom is unfit to rule much of anything.
              • China tends to take a very practical view of matters. A well-fed monster that occasionally demands another meal is better than a hungry, rampaging monster.

                • China created the monster but never took responsibility. We should, non-militarily, hold them accountable via trade. Anyone who supports North Korea gets a 5% tariff for example.
              • "China created this problem, quite literally"

                Um....No. Stalin did.

                China only got involved when Douglas McArthur directly disobeyed orders and pursued the NK army closer than 50 miles from the chinese border. Even then they only pushed back when McArthur's troops were next to the chinese border with most of the NK army sitting in China.

                The USSR propped up NK during the entire cold war and even now it's Russia still propping NK up (almost all international trade goes through the NK-russia border railway, not

          • Re:Tread Carefully (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2016 @09:39AM (#52274161)

            And China has no real desire to stop them.

            I have posted on this before. People who care about the subject should read _The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future_ by Victor Cha. It would be fair to say that many in the west, particularly Republicans (and by the way, Cha worked for the George W. Bush administration) overestimate the amount of influence that China has, but it is fair to say that China rarely uses what influence it does have.

            Basically China can't really make North Korea do anything. They can influence them, but that's about it. China really doesn't want instability in the region and it knows that the Kim family is crazy and China is telling the truth when they say that they want North Korea to be denuclearized. But North Korea learned from the experiences of Libya and Iraq in particular some lessons that the US wishes they hadn't. Namely that cooperating with the West is in no way a guarantee that they won't turn on you any way (Gaddafi in Libya) and that if you don't have nukes, the US may remove you from power any way (Saddam in Iraq). Survival of the Kim regime is paramount so the current Kim will never give up nukes. And North Korea has a Stalinist state where people are both brainwashed and unwilling to fight the big guy in charge because if they stand up they may be the only ones, so everybody cooperates in keeping him alive even though they fear him and know that doing so may be a really bad idea for their own livelihood.

            Basically China views all post-North Korea scenarios as really really bad for them and unacceptable. They know it is inevitable that the regime will eventually fall, but they want that to be the problem of the next generation to deal with. China deeply fears a united pro-US Korea that will have US troops stationed on its borders and they will not do anything to enable that outcome. Plus, they are raping the North Korea countryside for rare earths (the only thing of any real value in North Korea - the land there is very poor for agricultural purposes when you know what you are doing, let alone under Communism) at cut rate prices and they have a big economic interest in keeping that business going. So China has basically zero incentive to do anything that will result in the Kim regime leaving. Note too that North Korea borders a part of China with a relatively large ethnic Korean population because China basically stole this part of Korea many hundreds of years ago from an old Korean kingdom and never kicked out the people who lived there. So China fears any regime change because the border is somewhat porous and they could be overwhelmed with North Korean refugees once the government falls. So you can see how from China's side they view all North Korean regime changes as a lose-lose scenario for them even though they are beyond being tired of the North Koreans being troublesome. You have to give old Boris Yeltsin some credit as he stopped all aid there over 20 years ago and left China holding the bag for 100% of North Korea's aid because China didn't want the regime to fall.

            • by Duhavid ( 677874 )
              I will try to read it, thank you.

              I had never thought about a united ProUS Korea.  Yes, China would fear that.

              I do find all the "nuke them till they glow..." comments when NK misbehaves to be remarkably dense.
              China would never stand for any such thing.

              I wish I could pick your brain for a few hours on that and other subjects.
              Work calls.
            • "China deeply fears a united pro-US Korea that will have US troops stationed on its borders and they will not do anything to enable that outcome."

              The UN mandate for US troops on the NK/SK border is what keeps them there. If "peace" broke out tomorrow there would be no reason for US troops to remain in SK _at all_, in the same way that US troops are not stationed on other chinese borders.

              Yes, they could be peripherally fearful, but it's an unlikely scenario. In the past, a greater fear would have been that o

        • Not really true. The US (or a larger coalition) could stop NK, but lacks the will to commit to that. It would certainly be easier to do with China's help, but unless China full-on counterinvades like they did in the Korean War, a coalition could do it regardless of how China feels.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is both financially and socially/politically more beneficial to have NK there as another demonizable entity, along with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and many others. It is often overlooked how many other places have 'crimes against humanity' going on in them, including the ones closer to home (you deal with your own issues before sanctimoniously judging on others.) But distracting from issues at home is exactly what these places are used for. Propoganda showing how much worse you could have it if you lived elsewh

    • Someone needs to come up with a better solution because feature generations will use this as an example.

      Like what?

    • Everything in history sets a precedent. As fun as destroying this country sounds, that should not be the defacto way of humanity. Someone needs to come up with a better solution because feature generations will use this as an example. Doing nothing is also not an option even though they are assuredly 98% hype.

      Doing nothing is not an option? What are you talking about?! Doing nothing has been working for several decades with minimal financial investment!

      • It's an option for now, but if you keep doing nothing long enough you'll end up with a country primed for war, with an unstable leadership, and possessing nuclear weapons. This is not a bad situation, as it only needs one bad day for a major city to get blown up and tens of millions killed. There are quite enough nuclear weapons around already, but at least right now they are all under the command of leaders sensible enough not to use them - can you be so sure about North Korea, a country which declares war

        • by gtall ( 79522 )

          I wouldn't call the leaders of Pakistan sensible. They see nothing wrong with playing along with Islamist nutjobs who would like nothing better than another war with India. Mind you, Indira Gandhi got the ball rolling over there by nuclear testing first. It didn't take long for the Pakistanis to go running to the Norks for expertise on getting their own nuclear arsenal. Now, they have one of the fastest growing nuclear arsenals on the planet.

          That dirty little squit, Putin, has also made comments that more o

    • As fun as destroying this country sounds, that should not be the defacto way of humanity.

      "Should not be" is a nice thing to say, safe from attack...

      The only way to stop a bully is to punch him in the nose, he respects nothing else...

      Just ask Neville Chamberlain that...

      Someone needs to come up with a better solution

      Like what, talking? How about we use that same solution with criminals such as murderers and rapists, because that is the level of criminal we're dealing with.

      The way to stop someone like that is to shoot them, there really is no other option...

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        You don't summarily shoot murderers and rapists, you do what you have to do to stop them and nothing more. Your rhetoric sounds lazy, trite, and abjectly childish.

        • You don't summarily shoot murderers and rapists

          Sure you do, when you catch them in the act and when they clearly intend to keep doing it.

          If I walk into a room and find someone who has just killed someone and has just moved to their next target and is about to do it again, yep, you shoot them.

        • You cannot abdicate responsibility for those actions you choose not to take any more than you can those actions you actually perform. If you choose not to kill a murderer and they murder again, you bear responsibility for that choice. So yes, you absolutely do shoot murderers.
      • IMHO, the only "real resolution" is an assassination of Kim...he's far too crazy to be able to deal with on any rational trust level.A coup isn't going to work; he purges anyone he remotely suspects might speak out against him. I'm not advocating killing him; but I don't know what other path is available. Right now our "sit and wait" isn't doing much except allowing the NK people to starve while their leader attempts to create WMD.
        • IMHO, the only "real resolution" is an assassination of Kim...he's far too crazy to be able to deal with on any rational trust level.

          Of course, when you have a rabid dog, you take him to the vet and put him down.

          Not out of malice, but out of compassion... He clearly is unable to function in a civilized society and at some point we're just better off without him.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        The only way to stop a bully is to punch him in the nose, he respects nothing else...

        Cool. So when are you going to punch Uncle Sam, and his puppet government in SK, in [studentnewsdaily.com] the [motherjones.com] face? [iraqbodycount.org] Watching you American Exceptionalists go on about "the bad guys" is like watching Zombie Ted Bundy lecture Chris Brown for his bad attitude towards women.

        • The top dog isn't the bully, he is the football quarterback...

          You're free to punch HIM in the nose, but he isn't some punk kid, he and his football friends will kick your ass...

    • What the hell are you trying to say and why did anyone mod you up?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Maybe the US should step back and take a purely defensive posture, and let the other countries in that region real with the situation. Despite all the strong rhetoric flying around, they are actually making progress with NK. For example, Japan has managed to open a dialogue and get NK to investigate historic cases of kidnapping Japanese citizens. It's not resolved fully yet but in the last decade there has been a lot of movement.

      Antagonizing NK yearly with "military exercises" and the like is not going to g

      • Indeed, it's not like even China really likes NK. Honestly, this announcement is probably 95% PR / blustering than anything real. "We're restarting!" probably means "we turned the lights back on in the factory and have sent in some janitors to start cleaning the place up" as opposed to actually spinning anything up.
      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        The U.S. and S. Korea are not "antagonizing" the Norks. They are self-antagonizing, they'll simply invent slights where none occur no matter what their opponents do. There is no placating them, they have every intention of turning S. Korea into the workers' paradise that is the North. Without the external enemy, the Nork leadership (sic) have no reason to exist. If they took over S. Korea tomorrow, they'd start in on Japan next. If they got that they, start in on the U.S. bases in the Pacific as a mortal th

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          The U.S. and S. Korea are not "antagonizing" the Norks.

          Foal Eagle [studentnewsdaily.com] makes a bad liar out of that western exceptionalism. One of the largest annual military exercises in the world, practiced annually since '97, to wage a "defensive" war against North Korea. Which, I'm sure, is how western exceptionalists would view it if Russia and China practiced a "defensive" war off the coast of California, involving hundreds of ships, planes, and hundreds of thousands of troops.

          And you wonder why NK started nuclear deton

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      Someone needs to come up with a better solution because feature generations will use this as an example

      If someone did come up with a better solution, won't future generations use that as an example too?

  • What we know about the U.S. intelligence community is that they always get things utterly wrong. They have done so for easily 60 years, since they grossly overestimated the Soviet military threat in size, science, and capacity.

    What we know about North Korea is that it loves to make bold boasts about having advanced technologies that turn out to either explode at the launchpad or to be photoshopped cardboard boxes.

    Fear level: 3. I'm modestly worried that the U.S. will do something insanely stupid, again, aft

  • But then (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kilodelta ( 843627 )
    If you can't get a lift vehicle off the ground without problems what good are those bombs?
    • If you can't get a lift vehicle off the ground without problems what good are those bombs?

      Their airplanes work just fine. And Peking is within range, as is Tokyo.

      Or didn't you know that a nuclear weapon can be delivered by airplane? Hell, you can put a modern one into a large suitcase and deliver it via the daily commericial flight to Peking....

      • A shipping container destined for Los Angeles would also be a fairly inexpensive solution.
        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          A despite terrible Tom Clancy book plots, practically impossible to pull off. Bomb grade material is *very* hard to hide.
  • If I was a North Korean citizen living anywhere around the potential launch sites, seeing how successful their launches are. Seems far more likely these bombs would turn into a local dirty bomb than actually manage to get to whatever target. I would say it's getting close to Stuxnet them, but it seems like NK is doing enough damage to themselves.
  • This is terrible news! It means that North Korea might actually become a viable, independent state that we cannot contain with economic sanctions and foreign policy arm-twisting.

    That means that we might have to (gasp!) actually talk to them and treat them as a legitimate government with the right to sovereignty over their own land.

    Has anyone else noticed that our "non-proliferation" programs have done nothing but increased nuclear weapon proliferation?

  • breed the Plutonium need for atomic bombs. If Iran had really wanted nuclear weapons we couldn't have stopped them.
    • "If Iran had really wanted nuclear weapons we couldn't have stopped them."

      Iran has enough highly enriched uranium (up to 55%) to make several hundred bombs.

      They've made no move whatsoever towards even beginning to make one. All that enriched uranium is sequestered for use as the core of their civil nuclear program (you need a lot more enriched uranium to start a reactor than you need to make bombs)

      That isn't my opinion, it's one published by MOSSAD. In their opinion the Iranians have no desire whatsoever t

  • by no1nose ( 993082 ) on Wednesday June 08, 2016 @12:03PM (#52275269)

    And the US will continue to have weak foreign policy.

  • This is a provocative interesting article, that has little to do with information, technology, computers, AI, web design, graphics, processors, memory, social networking, computer security, network protocols, IP addresses, hacking, writing code, Linux, Windows, OSX....

    As with every news article I see, I always ask myself:
    1.) Why is this article here.
    2.) Who wanted it here.

  • Or does a 5MW nuclear reactor sound very very small. Like small enough that it is one of those experimental ones that produce medical isotopes. Also if it is so small, how is is producing enough "material" for 100+ bombs? Reactors are usually measured by the GW. This would be what, a 0.005 GW facility? Makes me a bit skeptical of the estimated claims.

    Also with that last statement being that all their attempts of launching missiles end with blowing them up prematurely, it sounds like if even were they to bui

    • "Or does a 5MW nuclear reactor sound very very small. Like small enough that it is one of those experimental ones that produce medical isotopes."

      Small is relative.

      5MW is enough to drive a nuclear sub or power a small military base.
      Civil reactors are in the 600-1400MW range (electrical, thermal is 3.5 to 4 times that)

      The Oak Ridge Molten Salt experiment was 8MW (thermal)

      Medical reactors only produce a few hundred watts of heat.

      • OK this is what I was thinking about, produces about 1/3rd the medical isotopes in the world:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Apparently it doesn't generate power at all. Yet supplied the US with about 12kg of weapons grade plutonium a year for about 20 years. Apparently 6kg is enough for a Nagasaki sized bomb.

        So why even mention the power generation size if it doesn't really have any baring on plutonium production at all? Just confuses the issue (least for me).

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