Pyongyang Has Dozens of Nukes, Top Defector Says


Richard Moore

   Pyongyang Has Dozens of Nukes, Top Defector Says
   The Sydney Morning Herald

   Wednesday 14 May 2003

  A man claiming to be a former North Korean People's
Army general who fled the impoverished state last year
has told a Japanese publication that Pyongyang secretly
imported nuclear bombs from the former Soviet Union and
developed dozens of its own weapons.

  The claims were among details about the Stalinist
state's military command and its leader Kim Jong-Il
contained in an article in the June edition of the
respected Gekkan Gendai (Modern Times Monthly), based
on an interview.

  The general told the magazine that North Korea
secretly imported nuclear bombs from the former Soviet
Union in 1983 and now has four Soviet-made nuclear
missiles which, with a range of 8,000 kilometres, could
reach the west coast of the United States.

  "The North Korean army even has tens of nuclear
weapons it has developed itself in addition to those
made by the former Sovet Union," the general was quoted
as saying.

  The four nuclear-tipped missiles are stored at an
underground site in Potaeri, in Samjiyon district at
the foot of Mount Paekdu on the border with China, he

  The article said the general was the "highest ranked"
North Korean defector since Hwang Jang-Yop, top
ideologue and secretary of the ruling Workers Party,
was granted political asylum in South Korea in 1997.

  The magazine withheld the man's name, rank and other
details at his request, using the pseudonym, An

  A Gendai editor told AFP the general was aged around
60 and lives in an Asian country, and that the
interview was held in mid-April. He declined to say
where the interview took place.

  An claimed to have served in the army for more than 30
years, the last 10 years close to Kim Jong-Il, and had
met the supreme leader many times.

  He told the magazine his former position meant that he
continued to get information from North Korea's elite,
adding, "I maintain channels with the Kim Jong-Il

  Kim has an "operation team" made up some 120 top
cadres from the Korean People's Army and the Korean
Workers Party, An said.

  It is headed by General Kim Tu-Nam and includes Vice
Marshal Jo Myong-Rok, director of the army's general
political department and Vice Marshal Kim Yong-Chun,
chief of general staff.

  An also said Kim Jong-Il bought more than 20
sophisticated MiG-31 fighters and deployed them near
Pyongyang in 2000.

  But An's revelations met with a cautious response from
analysts here, who said defectors are often keen to
inflate their value or distort information for various

  "The former Soviet Union was most careful not to allow
the proliferation of nuclear weapons, even to Warsaw
Pact allies," said Hideshi Takesada, professor at the
National Institute for Defence Studies.

  "This may possibly be a (case of a) defector who has
been sent by the North or wants to whip up fear as a
gift for the North," he said.

  Pyon Jin-Il, editor of the Korea Report newsletter,
said he could not believe MiG planes had been sold
without being detected by South Korea or the United
States, and with Vladmir Putin in charge in Moscow.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this
material is distributed without profit to those who
have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational


     For the movement, the relevant question is not, "Can we
     work through the political system?", but rather, "Is
     the political system one of the things that needs to be
     fundamentally transformed?"

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