North Korea declared it would turn its plutonium stocks into weapons material and threatened military action against the US and its allies after the UN security council imposed new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for last month’s underground nuclear test.
The country’s foreign ministry today acknowledged for the first time that North Korea was developing a uranium enrichment programme and said it would be « impossible » to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
In a defiant statement, it said that « the whole amount of the newly extracted plutonium [in the country] will be weaponised » and that « more than one-third of the spent fuel rods has been reprocessed to date ».
The UN resolution authorises all countries to stop and search North Korean ships for weapons. The resolution risks standoffs between US and North Korean ships – a danger underlined by North Korea’s response. « An attempted blockade of any kind by the US and its followers will be regarded as an act of war and met with a decisive military response, » the regime said.
The regime is believed to have enough plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs. It has around 8,000 spent fuel rods that if reprocessed could allow the country to harvest 6-8kg of plutonium – enough for at least one nuclear bomb, according to analysts.