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Synopsis: North Korea has maintained a dubious record of its nuclear program. Given its past record, it becomes difficult to access the direction its nuclear program is going to take.
North Korea recently started its largest fissile material production reactor. This is the same reactor whose production was ceased in December 2018. IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has flagged this as a violation of the UNSC (United Nation Security Council) resolution.
North Korea’s confusing record of the nuclear program
1987: North Korea was added to the terror list following its bombing attack on a South Korean airplane. Ever since then it has been subject to repeated sanctions which were withdrawn, only to be re-imposed.
In 1994 North Korea barred the access of IAEA to its reactors. IAEA in its following reports mentioned that North Korea was generating plutonium from spent fuel. In response, the USA planned pre-emptive precision strikes on the nuclear complex. This was, however, resolved diplomatically through a framework of a peace deal brokered by President Jimmy Carter. Under the deal, Pyongyang would free all the nuclear activities and allow inspection of its military sites. In return, they will be allowed to build two light-water reactors.
The same activities of North Korea have been repeated again. In June 2008, North Korea blew up its cooling tower at Yongbyon complex to show commitment to the US and other countries. This led the USA to ease sanctions on North Korea. However, it barred the access of IAEA inspectors to its reprocessing plant in this complex and later expelled them.
What is the USA present approach?
President Biden has adopted the pragmatic approach of dialogues and talks. North Korea has hardened its stance as it wants to secure relief from sanctions first.
All this leads to one important question – that can nuclear proliferation ever be controlled, especially when the States see it as a source of power.
Source: This post is based on the article “A selective nuclear policy” published in The Hindu on 13th September 2021.
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