Friday, August 25, 2006

South Korea Finally Certain That North Korea Has Nukes

From the Washtington Post, S. Korea certain North has nuclear bombs: minister

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is certain North Korea has nuclear weapons and Seoul's best estimate is Pyongyang has produced one or two bombs, its defense minister said on Friday, amid reports that the North may be preparing a nuclear test.

Another senior official said South Korea and China had agreed to cooperate in preventing the North from conducting a test, which would pose a grave situation in the region.

Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said he believed the North had one or two nuclear weapons, but his remarks in parliament on Friday were among the strongest yet on the North's possession of atomic bombs.

"It is estimated that the North has one or two," Yoon told a parliamentary hearing when asked about the North's nuclear arsenal. When asked if the South has no doubt about the North's possession of a nuclear weapon, Yoon said: "That's correct." ...
From the Korea Times, Pyongyang Has Nuclear Bombs: Defense Minister:
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said Friday Seoul has no doubt that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons.

``The government believes North Korea has one or two nuclear bombs," the minister told the National Assembly Defense Committee.

Asked by an opposition member of the committee whether the communist state has developed or manufactured nuclear weapons, Yoon said the government has no doubt that Pyongyang possesses an atomic bomb.

Washington has long believed Pyongyang may have manufactured six to 12 atomic bombs, but Seoul has been reluctant to call the North a nuclear state.

North Korea announced it possessed nuclear weapons in a Foreign Ministry statement released in February last year, but South Korean officials, including former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, claimed the North cannot be called a nuclear power until it is ``scientifically proven.’

The defense minister's remarks are expected to raise concerns here that Pyongyang may be trying to scientifically prove its possession of nuclear arms through an underground test of an atomic bomb.
So does this signal a change in South Korea's policy towards the North? We'll see, but I won't hold my breath.

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