SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s state-run defense think tank has concluded that North Korea is capable of achieving the technology needed to miniaturize its nuclear warheads, an informed military source said Sunday.
In its report on 2009 military trends in Northeast Asia scheduled to be published next month, the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses (KIDA) concluded that the North at the moment does not have the technology to fit a nuclear weapon on a missile, according to the military source who asked to be unnamed.
But KIDA has determined that it is only a matter of time before the North becomes capable of successfully producing a small nuclear warhead, considering its possession of a high-explosives test site, a large number of experts and its concentration on nuclear development.
For years, the communist country has been dragging its feet on nuclear disarmament in negotiations with South Korea, the U.S. and other regional powers. The country conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and its second one in May of this year.
North Korea is boycotting the six-party denuclearization talks in protest against U.N. sanctions for its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year, although its leader Kim Jong-il recently expressed his willingness to return to dialogue.
The think tank also concluded that the North’s nuclear program has been overseen by at least 28 state agencies operating under the ruling Workers’ Party and the National Defense Commission, with an estimated 3,000 government employees involved in the country’s nuclear development, said the source.
KIDA said that the North test-fired a total of 22 short-range missiles after it conducted its second nuclear test on May 25.