Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Gordon Prather on North Korea
Dr. Prather, our favorite nuclear physicist who once designed nuke weapons at Sandia and Lawrence Livermore, does not believe North Korea possesses any nuclear weapons at the moment and that they may not be intending to develop them. The major media continues to report that Pyongyang has admitted it is now trying to develop nukes, but Prather says that is an inference, not a fact. It is still possible that the uranium-enrichment plant that we discovered by satellite last year is being used to produce nuclear fuel for the two light-water power reactors that the U.S. promised to have built for them in exchange for their closing down the Soviet power reactors they were constructing back then. The two nukes the CIA says the North Koreans may possess are also inferences, says Prather, based on a small amount of plutonium that could not be accounted for in 1985 when North Korea signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and became subject to the inspections of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Prather says it is implausible to him that North Korea has the expertise or the tested weapons design to produce a plutonium-implosion bomb, as such a bomb could not be deployed without testing. Of course, he says if they set their minds to it, they could do so in the future as they take their Soviet plants out of mothballs. In order to settle things back down and preserve the nuclear world order where almost all nations agree to the provisions of NPT and inspections by the IAEA, he thinks a fix is in order to the protocols, one that would make it impossible for countries like North Korea to stray from their agreements in the future. His column appeared January 4 at the website of WorldNetDaily, for which he writes weekly.
The nuke world order
By Gordon Prather
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
Most Americans expect a New World Order especially an American Hegemony to prevent their being nuked in their jammies. That means keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists. An American Hegemony can't do that, but, an International Atomic Energy Agency with teeth, can.
Of course, al-Qaida might get nukes from a nation-state already possessing them, like Pakistan, and the IAEA can't prevent that. But the IAEA can prevent the export of nuke-materials from those Pakistani facilities already subject to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement. And the U.N. Security Council by enforcing IAEA Safeguards Agreements can prevent rogue states like North Korea from developing nukes for themselves or producing nuke-materials for export.
If al-Qaida did acquire a few hundred pounds of highly-enriched uranium they could conceivably build their own simple "gun-type" nuke, like the 9,700-lb. "Little Boy" we dropped on Hiroshima, untested.
But, the weapons-useable plutonium that North Korea has produced would be of no use to a terrorist. No one can make a gun-type nuke with plutonium. It has to be an "implosion-type" nuke, like the 10,800-lb. "Fat Man" we dropped on Nagasaki. And the design has to be tested.
The IAEA reports that the Iraqis already had in 1990 an untested implosion-type nuke design, and the nukes the Pakistanis tested in 1998 were implosion-type nukes. Could the North Koreans use the Iraqi or Pakistani design to make plutonium-implosion nukes, for themselves or for sale to the highest bidder?
No, the Pakistani nukes were HEU-implosion weapons as was the untested Iraqi design. You can't just substitute plutonium for HEU in a nuke design.
The big unanswered question about the Iraqi nuke program is where they got their HEU-implosion nuke design. From the Soviet Union? And where did the Pakistanis get their much more sophisticated HEU-implosion design? From China?
But, why would either China or the Soviets bother to design and test HEU-implosion nukes? If you want small, high-yield, deliverable nukes, you go with plutonium, as we have done, not HEU.
In 1992, North Korea, a non-nuke signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, voluntarily entered into a Safeguards Agreement, subjecting its plutonium-producing reactors and related facilities to the IAEA-NPT inspection regime.
However, in mid-1994 because of a dispute about a possible diversion of 10 percent or so of the plutonium produced North Korea attempted to unilaterally abrogate the Safeguards Agreement. Enter Jimmy the Peacemaker with the multibillion dollar Clinton-Carter bribe the Agreed Framework to "freeze" the operation and construction of Safeguarded facilities.
So, for eight years, North Korean plutonium-producing reactors, related facilities and enough un-separated plutonium to make a dozen nukes have been 'frozen', under IAEA padlock and seal. How come? Perhaps the Koreans didn't have a tested plutonium-implosion nuke design. Perhaps there wasn't a market for their nuke-useable plutonium.
But, ominously, the Pakistanis secretly reported to us a couple of years ago that they had been supplying uranium enrichment equipment and technical assistance to the Koreans. The Koreans were obligated to report that to us under the terms of the Agreed Framework and to the IAEA under the terms of the Safeguards Agreement. But they didn't.
Last fall, we finally accused the Koreans of secretly enriching uranium. To our surprise, they admitted it, and almost immediately, announced they were unilaterally abrogating the Agreed Framework and their Safeguards Agreement and were banishing IAEA inspectors from North Korea.
Why take such a provocative step and why take it now? So their HEU facilities wouldn't become subject to IAEA inspections? Have they got a tested HEU-implosion design? Are they that near to producing enough HEU to make nukes?
On Jan. 6, the IAEA Board of Governors will meet in emergency session to discuss the North Korean situation, thence to make recommendations to the U.N. Security Council.
There is little doubt that if the Security Council lets North Korea get away with unilaterally abrogating a Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA-NPT regime will be rendered toothless.
If we are to have a New World Order that prevents terrorists from getting their hands on nukes we must have an IAEA with teeth. The Security Council must pass a resolution requiring the North Koreans to fully declare all their nuke-related facilities and activities and to immediately subject them to the full-scope Safeguards Agreement they have entered into. If North Korea refuses to comply, the Security Council must authorize the "use of all necessary means" by member states.