"North Korea's decisions to restart nuclear installations at Yongbyon that were shut down under the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework of 1994 and to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty create an acute foreign policy problem for the United States. Restarting the Yongbyon facilities opens up a possible North Korean intent to stage a 'nuclear breakout' of its nuclear program and openly produce nuclear weapons. North Korea's actions follow the reported disclosure in October 2002 that North Korea is operating a secret nuclear program based on uranium enrichment and the decision by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) in November 2002 to suspend shipments of heavy oil to North Korea. North Korea claims that it has nuclear weapons and that it has completed reprocessing of 8,000 nuclear fuel rods. U.S. officials in 2004 stated that North Korea probably had reprocessed most or all of the fuel rods and may have produced 4-6 atomic bombs from them. The main objective of the Bush Administration is to secure the dismantling of North Korea's plutonium and uranium-based nuclear programs. Its strategy has been: (1) terminating the Agreed Framework; (2) withholding any U.S. reciprocal measures until North Korea takes visible steps to dismantle its nuclear programs and makes concessions on other military issues; (3) assembling an international coalition to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea; and (4) planning for future economic sanctions and military interdiction of North Korea shipping and air traffic through a Proliferation Security Initiative."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB91141