Dangerous Dealings: North Korea's Nuclear Capabilities and the Threat of Export to Iran
On Oct. 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and proclaimed itself a world nuclear power. The explosion yield was less than one kiloton, much less than the first nuclear test of other states and even less than the expected yield of four kilotons that North Korean officials forecast to their Chinese counterparts.
Nonetheless, the test demonstrated Pyongyang's mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and at least rudimentary nuclear-weapon design and manufacturing capabilities.
On Feb. 13, North Korea signed a six-party agreement to take initial actions to implement a Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement for the eventual abandonment of its nuclear weapons program. While this is welcome news, the road to the abandonment of North Korean nuclear weapons and capabilities will be long and arduous, and success is far from guaranteed. Its nuclear program still poses significant risks to international security, the most serious of which is the export of nuclear materials, expertise or technologies to states such as Iran and the potential for subsequent proliferation to terrorists.