North Korea's New Offensive
The Man Who Would Be Kim
Why North Korea Will Muddle Through
How to Deal With North Korea
The Fire Last Time
Regime Change and Its Limits
The Long Road to Pyongyang
Why North Korea Will Not Change
The Once and Future Kim
Succession and Stasis in North Korea
What I Found in North Korea
Pyongyang’s Plutonium Is No Longer the Only Problem
Next of Kim
North Korea, One Year Later
The China Option
Progress in Pyongyang Must Go Through Beijing
Why China Hasn't Reined in North Korea
Trump and North Korea
Reviving the Art of the Deal
Getting Tough on North Korea
How to Hit Pyongyang Where It Hurts
Atoms for Pyongyang
Let North Korea Have Peaceful Nuclear Power
Kim Jong Un's Quest for an ICBM
The State of North Korea's Missile Program
Japan's North Korea Options
Will Tokyo Equip Itself for a Preemptive Strike?
Caught in the Middle
The North Korean Threat Is Ultimately Seoul's Problem
China's North Korean Liability
How Washington Can Get Beijing to Rein In Pyongyang
The Wolf of Pyongyang
How Kim Jong Un Resembles a CEO
The Korean Missile Crisis
Why Deterrence Is Still the Best Option
Preventing Nuclear War With North Korea
What to Do After the Test
Changing North Korea
An Information Campaign Can Beat the Regime
A Korea Whole and Free
Why Unifying the Peninsula Won't Be So Bad After All
On November 12, during my most recent visit to the Yongbyon nuclear complex, North Korean scientists showed me and my colleagues, John W. Lewis and Robert Carlin, a small, recently completed, industrial-scale uranium-enrichment facility and an experimental light-water reactor (LWR) under construction.
I was stunned by the sight of 2,000 centrifuges in two cascade halls and an ultramodern control room. But it was not until the long drive back to Pyongyang that the political implications of these findings hit home. It will be more important than ever to limit Pyongyang's nuclear progress and calm tensions on the Korean peninsula. This is particularly true in light of the clash in the Yellow Sea between the two Koreas late last month.
Although I and other nonproliferation experts had long believed that North Korea possessed a parallel uranium-enrichment program -- and there was ample evidence for such a belief -- I was amazed by its scale and sophistication. Instead of finding a few dozen first-generation centrifuges, we saw rows of advanced centrifuges, apparently fully operational. Our hosts told us that construction of the centrifuge facility began in April 2009 and was completed a few days before our arrival. That is not credible, however, given the requirements for specialty materials and components, as well as the difficulty of making the centrifuge cascades work smoothly.
How North Korea managed to obtain all these materials is a troubling question for the global nonproliferation regime. Indeed, there is no evidence that North Korea can produce high-strength aluminum or steel alloys on its own, or that ring magnets, bearings, and vacuum valves were manufactured indigenously.
The most likely scenario is that the equipment was built and brought into operation over many years at a different location and then moved into the new facility. The items needed to manufacture the centrifuges were likely obtained through North Korea's complex and far-reaching procurement network -- in which Pakistan likely played a significant role. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted in his memoirs that the Pakistani
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