North Korea's Nuclear Gains Worry Europeans

Participants take their seats to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting on Monday in Vienna. The European Union on Wednesday told the governing board it was worried that North Korea was "increasing" its ability to make compact nuclear warheads.
Participants take their seats to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting on Monday in Vienna. The European Union on Wednesday told the governing board it was worried that North Korea was "increasing" its ability to make compact nuclear warheads. (Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union on Wednesday said it was worried that Pyongyang was getting closer to producing compact nuclear arms that can be fitted to missiles.

"We remain equally concerned that the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] is increasing its ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads for their missiles," the 28-member European Union said in a statement to a gathering of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board in Vienna, Reuters reported.

The ability to make nuclear weapons small enough to be carried by a missile would mark a serious breakthrough in North Korea's military development. The country to date has carried out three underground atomic-device tests and is believed to be prepared to carry out a fourth blast once the political decision is made to do so. Additionally, two test-firings in March of a medium-range Rodong ballistic missile are believed by some independent analysts to have been aimed assessing the ability of the weapon to carry a future nuclear payload.

An ex-South Korean government official said he believes that the North can "likely fit a nuclear warhead on a Rodong missile," though it is less probable that the warhead would perform as intended after re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, Arms Control Today reported in its June edition.

It is very difficult to manufacture delivery vehicles that can withstand the rigors of atmospheric re-entry, particularly given North Korea's lack of "advanced resources and technology," the official said in a May interview.

Meanwhile, Russia's recent high-level diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang could undermine international efforts to persuade the North to cease its nuclear work, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

With relations with Europe and the United States badly soured over events in Ukraine, Moscow has been seeking to deepen diplomatic and economic involvement in Asia including in North Korea, where the Kremlin has pledged to undertake new economic development projects. If Pyongyang starts to receive more economic assistance from Russia, it could make the Kim Jong Un regime less willing to contemplate the denuclearization actions that Washington, Seoul and Tokyo are demanding, AP reported.

June 4, 2014
About

The European Union on Wednesday said it was worried that Pyongyang was getting closer to producing compact nuclear arms that can be fitted to missiles.

Countries