The North Korean Nuclear Program in Transition
38 North, U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
April 26, 2012
Article by: Olli Heinonen, Belfer Center senior fellow
Topic: North Korea’s nuclear program
“When North Korean leadership transitioned late last year from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang experienced change in more ways than one. Kim Jong Il presided over a nuclear program that produced two plutonium bomb detonations and, towards the end of his reign, ramped up its uranium enrichment program. Today, Kim Jong Un helms a nuclear program that has transitioned from graphite moderated reactors and plutonium to light water reactors (LWR) and uranium enrichment.
The moratorium announced by the DPRK on February 29, 2012 on missile tests, nuclear tests, and operations at the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon, in return for nutritional aid from the United States, provided the signal as well as the lever with which to reengage the diplomatic process. The hoped for quid pro quo was that North Korea would curb additional progress in its nuclear weapon program.”
Heinonen was also quoted in Bloomberg’s “Iran Says It May Halt Nuclear Program Over Sanctions” on April 25, 2012.