Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 01/2015

Longer Q&A on North Korea

Siegfried S. Hecker

April 2013

Center for International Security and Cooperation


North Korea announced on April 2, 2013, that it would restart its nuclear facilities, including its 5 megawatt - electric (MWe) nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, north of the capital, which had been disabled and mothballed since an agreement in October 2007. Pronouncements from Pyongyang during the past few weeks have been ominous, including threatening the United States and South Korea with pre - emptive nuclear attacks. On April 2, 2013, a spokesman for North Korea’s General Department of Atomic Energy told the Korean Central News Agency that at the March 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea: “A new strategic line was laid down on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear armed forces.” The pronouncement continued: “The field of atomic energy is faced with heavy tasks for making a positive contribution to solving the acute shortage of electricity by developing the self - reliant nuclear power industry and for bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity until the world is denuclearized.” We ask Stanford Professor Siegfried Hecker – former CISAC co - director and now a senior fellow at CISAC and the Freeman Spogli Institute – to weigh in. Hecker has been invited seven times to North Korea and he made international headlines when he returned from his last trip in November 2010 and announced the isolated North Asia nation had built a modern uranium enrichment facility.