DOES NORTH KOREA HAVE A BOMB?….Mario Carino writes to point out another oddity in the whole North Korea situation: do they have a bomb or don’t they?

I’ve been wondering about that myself, but figured my ignorance was just due to my usual cavalier approach to reading the daily news. But no:

“Don’t be quite so breathless,” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell cautioned one interviewer who expressed alarm on Sunday. “Yes, they have a large army, and, yes, they have had these couple of nuclear weapons for many years, and if they have a few more, they have a few more, and they could have them for many years.”

….But, despite administration claims, it is not so clear-cut that North Korea is already a nuclear weapons power. In early 1993, the CIA began circulating an analysis that North Korea may have obtained enough fissile material to produce one or two bombs. But, even today, that analysis is the subject of dispute, with some experts dismissing it as little more than a “back of the envelope” calculation. It is based largely on the amount of plutonium that would be needed for a nuclear weapon and how much North Korea is estimated to have diverted from its nuclear facilities.

In other words: who knows? In any case, apparently the North Koreans haven’t admitted anything, which seems odd since they’ve copped to just about everything else.

North Korea is indeed a morally bankrupt dictatorship and certainly will get no defense from me. But I am nonetheless curious about the basic facts of the situation and whether those facts show that they are technically in violation of their treaty obligations. In a post yesterday I quoted Sebastian Holsclaw as suggesting that building a bomb violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but now that doesn’t appear quite as clear. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they had, but I wonder if the adminstration has more proof of this than they’ve been willing to publicly release?

POSTSCRIPT: Yes, I know that most people refer to North Korea as the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), which is their official name, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. They are neither democratic, concerned about people, nor a republic, and one out of four just isn’t good enough.

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