Confirmed: Korea Sets Nuclear Sights on U.S.

Posted by Ian Cooper - Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

From Energy and Capital:

A story like this may have mattered in the 80s. Or even in the 90s. But by now, it's common knowledge North Korea is enriching uranium.

It's been three decades since they began work on the Yongbyon Facilities — a 5 MW reactor, a fuel fabricator, and a plutonium processing plant. The site also has an uncompleted 50 MW reactor that was begun in 1994, and is nowhere close to being finished.

North Korea isn't supposed to be working at those locations, but satellite images show otherwise.

And it's already told the world it's enriching uranium and seeking a light-water reactor for peaceful energy purposes.

We already knew — or at least had a very good idea of — what the Kim Jong Ilk were up to.

Manufacturing threats, not devices

North Korea's first weapon test in 2006 was essentially a dud, and revealed problems with either the bomb design or the plutonium at its core.

A test in 2009 was more successful, but still only about 20% as powerful as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki 65 years ago.

As a Reuters Factbox reports: “Even though it has exploded nuclear devices, North Korea has not shown it has a working nuclear bomb,” and, “experts say they do not believe the North can miniaturize an atomic weapon to place on a missile.”

What's more, “North Korea's aging fleet of Soviet-era bombers would also have difficulty evading the advanced air forces of regional powers to deliver a nuclear bomb outside the country.”

Even today's attack was more a cry for attention than a cry for any type of war, which the North would surely lose.

All it wants is bartering power for nuclear negotiations.

I guess we can skip the bomb shelters and canned goods...

South Korea's got the goods

While Kim Jong-il cries for attention and tries to set the stage for his son's succession, the South Koreans are really the ones taking over the global nuclear game.

The South currently plans to bring eight new reactors into operation by 2016.

In December of last year, the United Arab Emirates awarded a $20.4 billion contract to a Korean-led consortium to build four 1,400 MW reactors — and another $20 billion to run them.

Last month, it signed a nuclear power cooperation agreement with South Africa. And it did the same with Poland in August.

South Korea is also building a research reactor in Jordan, on which construction began today.

And state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (NYSE: KEP) is in talks with Turkey, Lithuania, and India to build new reactors worth tens of billions of dollars.

It's only a matter of time until the Koreans bring their technology to U.S. shores.

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