North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program [Updated August 27, 2003]   [open pdf - 92KB]

"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 withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty create an acute foreign policy problem for the United States. North Korea's major motive appears to be to escalate pressure on the Bush Administration to negotiate over Pyongyang's proposed nonaggression pact and/or a new nuclear agreement that would provide new U.S. benefits to North Korea. However, re-starting the Yongbyon facilities opens up a possible North Korean intent to stage a 'nuclear breakout' of its nuclear program and openly produce nuclear weapons within six months. North Korea's actions follow the 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 claimed in April 2003 that it had nuclear weapons and that it had nearly completed reprocessing of 8,000 nuclear fuel rods. […] The crisis is the culmination of eight years of implementation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, which provides for the shutdown of North Korea's nuclear facilities in return for the delivery to North Korea of 500,000 tons of heavy oil and the construction in North Korea of two light water nuclear reactors. The United States pledged to issue a nuclear security guarantee to North Korea as North Korea complied with its 1992 safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency."

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CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB91141
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