A Stanford University scientist, Siegfried Hecker, recently published a report on the modernisation of Yongbyan nuclear facility. It made clear Western sanctions aren’t slowing down North Korea’s nuclear programme. Perhaps even more troubling was David Albright and Paul Brannan’s 2009 analysis of North Korea’s nuclear programme, which demonstrated a clear pattern of cooperation and technology exchange between North Korea and entities in Pakistan and China.
Politicians in Japan and South Korea are starting to wonder if they should arm themselves for the worst-case scenario: that North Korea can’t be appeased, and will decide to use a nuclear weapon. For all practical purposes, the two Koreas’ advanced industrial capabilities mean they are a screwdriver’s twist away from both having one. (In February, the US Joint Forces Command said they “could quickly build nuclear devices if they chose to do so.”)