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North Korea will have the bomb unless the west changes tactics

By Hubertus Hoffmann and Tillmann Dietrich - posted Monday, 28 October 2013

North Korea is a real Frankenstein state of permanent control and terror. The ‘Prince-in-Power’ already has enough nuclear material to destroy Seoul and the South using some primitive, dirty bomb-style devices. It is still unclear whether the bombs he claims to have assembled are actual atomic bombs. Some experts argue, small, two to four kilogram warheads were tested, which could fit on top of the medium range No-Dong missiles. North Korea got the deadly know-how from Pakistani A-bomb guru A. Q. Khan who visited the country 13 times from 1997 to 2002 and sold the technology.

Since 2005 North Korea has operated 2000 to 3000 P-1 uranium centrifuges, enough to produce material for two bombs a year. It conducted three tests of the devices in 2006, 2009 and February 2013. The leading expert David Albrights estimates that there was already enough nuclear material for 12 to 23 warheads by the end of 2011, extended up to 34 by the end of 2016. In any case, Kim Jong-un wants the bomb, loves the bomb, banks on acquiring a bomb and also needs the bomb in order to be heard and taken seriously both inside and outside his communist kingdom.

Until today, however, he has been unable to acquire a miniature version of a large device capable of being emplaced in the warheads of his missiles – that is his problem. But he is working on it. He wants to make the nuclear threat both credible and deployable. The A-clock countdown is ticking in Korea and nobody knows how much time is left. It could take between two and five years from now to fit a miniaturized NK-A-bomb into a missile warhead.


North Korea and the other state with nuclear ambitious, Iran, cooperate in missile technology, and may be very discretely engaging in the production of nuclear materials and warheads as well. A kind of atomic devil joint venture and exchange program. Some even argue that a bomb designed by Iran has been tested in North Korea. Of course, any design in Korea would be sold to and used by Iran as well – it is safe to say, since both are allies and North Korea desperately needs money.

If Iran goes nuclear, we can bet it will franchise the bomb to the little Prince. Asia and the West will then be sandwiched between two very aggressive totalitarian atomic powers – in the Gulf and Northeast Asia. A horror scenario, maybe even for Beijing and Moscow, which do almost nothing to stop these developments by their allies and business and arms sales partners. To contain the communist prince and the Mullahs at the same time – both guided by ruthless dictators and lacking any human values – with atomic bombs in their hands, seems like a mission impossible.

If Kim Jong-un is able to play with an A-bomb on rockets, ready to push the button at any time when he may be in a bad mood and angry, is not just a new threat for South Korea, Japan and the Pacific, but a real unpredictable and ticking time bomb.

His line of provocations, attacks on the South, and torture of his own people show a no-mercy approach. When you let one million of your own people die, why not the same number in the South or Japan?

Some argue, that the nuclear option is the only way he can get recognition from the outside. They are right. But if so, he would gain more with an effective nuclear-armed missile force. It would make him more unpredictable and aggressive as he would believe that nobody can harm him anymore.

The key question now is: what should be done?


What’s missing is a coordinated, efficient and credible Korean-American-Japanese Grand Containment Strategy to contain the atomic threat from North Korea with clear American leadership and power projection. Too much remains too vague.

This strategy should be based on two equal pillars of power and diplomacy as a double-strategy in the spirit of that which helped NATO get rid of the SS-20-IRBM. The situation is different in Korea, but some lessons can be learned from Europe.

The six-party talks, which included China, Russia, the U.S., South Korea and Japan, aiming to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, should address not only nuclear but also economic issues. They could be widened to broaden the issues and find common ground. We need both hard power and smart diplomacy, fitting together like two sides of a single coin.

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About the Authors

German investor and London-based geo-strategist Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann is founder and president of the NGO

Tillmann Dietrich is Global Editor-in-Chief of the World Security Network.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Hubertus Hoffmann
All articles by Tillmann Dietrich

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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