North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program [Updated February 27, 2003]   [open pdf - 86KB]

"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. The main elements of Bush Administration policy are (1) terminating the Agreed Framework; (2) no bilateral negotiations with North Korea until it satisfies U.S. concerns over its nuclear program; (3) assembling an international coalition to pressure North Korea; and (4) proposing multilateral talks involving North Korea and other countries, possibly under United Nations auspices; (5) warning and planning for future economic sanctions against North Korea; and (6) warning North Korea not to reprocess nuclear weapons-grade plutonium, including asserting that 'all options are open,' including military options."

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CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB91141
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