Amid a flurry of signs that North Korea may
actively be developing its nuclear technology, an emerging question is what’s next?
With some even predicting a possible fourth nuclear test, experts attending the Asan North
Korea Conference 2013 in Seoul on this Wednesday exchanged ideas on what to expect.
Arirang News’ Unification Ministry was there and she filed us this report.
Before going ahead with its fourth nuclear test, North Korea will try to showcase its
improved nuclear capability, providing an opportunity for fresh negotiations.
That’s according to American arms control expert Joshua Pollack, who was speaking at
the Asan North Korea Conference in Seoul on Wednesday. “The next step, in my educated guess, would
be to show us what analysts sometimes call the ground truth — to bring a trusted set
of eyes inside the facilities so they can use them to bargain with us, and to put pressure
on us to come to the table more on their terms.” In April, the North announced a reboot of
its facilities at Yongbyon and recent satellite imagery of the complex suggests steady progress
has already been made. Pyongyang is believed to have doubled the
floor size of its uranium-enrichment plant and reactivated its plutonium production reactor.
Dr. Markus Schiller from Schmucker Technologie says such developments are not an imminent
threat, but rather a bargaining chip for the North. “There are so many things that can go wrong
if you put this rocket on the launch site and prepare it for launch as a nuclear attack
against the United States, and I wouldn’t bet anything on doing that. If you ask me
if it’s technically capable, yes it is, but it’s highly, highly unlikely that they will
ever do that.” But considering North Korea’s unpredictability,
experts say the concerned parties should maintain their close cooperation on the situation. “Before the first North Korean nuclear test,
the North Korean government informed China that it was going to do a nuclear test. So
I would say that there should be a lot of discussions among China, U.S., and South Korea
on how to assess North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability.” In any case, experts say dialogue may be the
best way to go in tackling the current challenges with North Korea.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.