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4/16/04 - NORTH KOREAN NUKES - 2004-04-16

The New York Times newspaper reports that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, saw what he described as three fully assembled nuclear devices in North Korea. According to the New York Times report, Mr. Khan saw the weapons on a visit to North Korea five-years ago.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that “North Korea has pursued and is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability”:

“It’s been the longstanding intelligence community assessment that North Korea has produced one, possibly two, plutonium nuclear weapons. We would note that Mr. Khan has admitted to assisting North Korea’s enrichment program, and his admissions have put the lie to North Korea’s denial. . . . North Korea has claimed to possess a nuclear deterrent, to have the capability to produce additional weapons, and we have to take those statements seriously.”

Since August 2003, representatives from the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and North and South Korea have met twice to discuss North Korea’s nuclear capability. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that the U.S. and North Korea’s neighbors hope that North Korean officials “will come to the conclusion that they are better off...and [the North Korean] people are better off, by working with us to solve this problem so that we can begin to assist North Korea with its very severe needs with respect to energy and other things that they need.”