Joined: Feb 21, 2009
Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:42 pm
By Jon Herskovitz
SEOUL, April 15 (Reuters) - North Korea ordered U.N. inspectors to leave on Tuesday after saying it would quit international nuclear disarmament talks and restart a plant that makes bomb-grade plutonium, the United Nations said.
HOW MUCH OF A THREAT IS THIS TO SECURITY AND MARKETS?
North Korea cannot resume operations at its ageing Soviet-era Yongbyon nuclear plant quickly and its moves this week have caused little immediate impact on security and the investment environment. It has boycotted the six-country talks aimed at ending its nuclear programmes before and made similar moves to restart Yongbyon, which was being taken apart under a six-way disablement-for-aid deal. Market players in North Asia, which accounts for one-sixth of the global economy, have been unfazed by the latest action seen as typical sabre rattling.
However, if North Korea actually followed through on its threat and restarted Yongbyon, it could eventually extract enough material from spent fuel rods cooling at the plant to make one more nuclear bomb, adding to its meagre stockpile of fissile material and making another nuclear test more likely.
WHAT DOES NORTH KOREA WANT?
North Korea has used its military threat for years to gain global attention and squeeze concessions out of regional powers. By making these moves early in the administration of new U.S. President Barack Obama, it has more cards to play during his presidency and forces him to make crucial decisions about how it will manage its relations with Pyongyang.
HOW FAR WILL NORTH KOREA GO?
One of the most provocative moves for North Korea, which experts said has extracted enough plutonium for six to eight nuclear weapons, would be a second nuclear test. The chances of it coming in the next few months are slim because the North's propaganda apparatus has used a long-range rocket launch this month to herald the country's technical achievements and rally national pride. This may mean there is little need at present for a nuclear test in order to rally the masses behind leader Kim Jong-il's "military first" doctrine.
But experts said since the North's only nuclear test in October 2006 was just a partial success, another is inevitable because it needs one to see if it has built a better bomb design.
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