Support our mission

SEOUL — North Korea has enough plutonium stocks to make an “unlimited quantity” of nuclear weapons, according to a group that was building nuclear power plants in the country.

“I feel very confident that their plutonium program is now in full operation and it’s one that can produce almost unlimited quantities of nuclear weapons,” said Charles Kartman, executive director of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO.

Kartman made the comments late Monday in an address to the European Union parliament.

Under a 1994 agreement in which North Korea promised to stop seeking nuclear weapons, KEDO was assigned to build two nuclear reactors to provide energy to the country. The power station work was suspended in December amid concerns over the North’s revitalized weapons program.

“The plutonium program is a very real and very large problem,” Kartman said.

At the same time, he said, questions lingered about the North’s ability to produce enriched uranium, another key component in the weapons program.

“Although I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a problem there, its dimensions are beyond my knowledge,” he said.

Negotiations over the weapons continue. South Korean and U.S. experts said after the last round of six-nation talks that the North seemed unlikely to firm up any agreements until after the November U.S. presidential elections.

Two rounds have been held in Beijing but no formal solutions have been produced.

On Tuesday, a Japanese newspaper reported that U.S. and North Korean officials held secret meetings in March in New York about the weapons issue. Neither side confirmed that report.


Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up