Professionals at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge Laboratories estimate it would take up to ten years to dismantle all programs and operations in North Korea. Further, Tehran, Moscow and Beijing will work hard to delay what they can due to eliminating evidence of their respective involvement for decades in North Korea.
The Nine Steps Required to Really Disarm North Korea
NYT’s: The vast scope of North Korea’s atomic program means ending it would be the most challenging case of nuclear disarmament in history. Here’s what has to be done to achieve — and verify — the removal of the nuclear arms, the dismantlement of the atomic complex and the elimination of the North’s other weapons of mass destruction.
President Trump says he is meeting Kim Jong-un in Singapore because the North Korean leader has signaled a willingness to “denuclearize.’’
But that word means very different things in Pyongyang and Washington, and in recent weeks Mr. Trump has appeared to back away from his earlier insistence on a rapid dismantlement of all things nuclear — weapons and production facilities — before the North receives any sanctions relief.
Whether it happens quickly or slowly, the task of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization’’ — the phrase that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo keeps repeating — will be enormous. Since 1992, the country has repeatedly vowed never to test, manufacture, produce, store or deploy nuclear arms. It has broken all those promises and built a sprawling nuclear complex.
North Korea has 141 sites devoted to the production and use of weapons of mass destruction, according to a 2014 Rand Corporation report. Just one of them — Yongbyon, the nation’s main atomic complex — covers more than three square miles. Recently, the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington, inspected satellite images of Yongbyon and counted 663 buildings.
North Korea is the size of Pennsylvania. The disarmament challenge is made worse by uncertainty about how many nuclear weapons the North possesses — estimates range from 20 to 60 — and whether tunnels deep inside the North’s mountains hide plants and mobile missiles.
The process of unwinding more than 50 years of North Korean open and covert developments, therefore, would need to start with the North’s declaration of all its facilities and weapons, which intelligence agencies would then compare with their own lists and information.
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