North Korean Weaponry

Henri Fernandez
February 15, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017


The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) or commonly known as North Korea, is an isolated state of approximately 23 million people. [1] North Korea is a single-party nation governed by the motto concerning military first politics or "Songun Chongchi'i". North Korea has one of the strongest largest armies in the world with 1.1 million personnel. [1] The state of North Korea has had a lot of tension with its southern neighbor, South Korea, along with the United States regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program. [1] The following report reviews North Korea's tense relations with the United States regarding their nuclear weapons program.

American Tension with North Korea's Nuclear Program

United States policy towards North Korea has been concentrated on preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. [2] However, since October 2002, North Korea has banned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who monitor the freeze, withdrew themselves from the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and taken steps that have likely enabled it to increase its fissile material stockpile. [3]

The first North Korean nuclear crisis began in 1993 when North Korea stopped cooperating with the IAEA. [2] North Korea recently signed the NPT, which the IAEA enforces. North Korea's failure to cooperate with the IAEA forced the IAEA to report the state to the UN Security Council.] After talks with the United States, the United States and North Korea formed the Agreed Framework in 1994 in which North Korea promised to halt its nuclear programs with South Korea agreeing to provide light water reactors to satisfy North Korea's energy needs. [2] The United States would also provide fuel to aid North Korea. [2]

However, tensions arose in 2002 when United States diplomat, James Kelly, heard from a North Korean diplomat that North Korea was pursuing an uranium enrichment program. [2] An congregation finally formed known as the 6PT that included China, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, and Russia. The 6PT had limited success beginning with the first round of talks in Beijing in 2003. The final round in 2005 included Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun urging the United States and North Korea to be more flexible in their diplomacy. [3] Talks stalled because North Korea stated that it wouldn't cease its nuclear weapons program unless it was given a light water reactor. [2] North Korea was also upset with the United States actions against a Macau based bank that held North Korean funds. However, an agreement was reached in the sixth round of meetings of the 6PT in 2007 giving North Korea a million tons of fuel oil and the return of all lost funds from the Macau based bank. In return, North Korea must close its Yongbyon nuclear site and give full disclosure on their nuclear activities. In 2008, North Korea closed the Yongbyon site and destroyed its cooling tower. [2]


The current tensions between North Korea and the United States have not seemed to settle since North Korea continues to escalate tensions boasting themselves as a "proud nuclear power" and continues to threat to attack the United States. [1] In this report, we have reviewed the past history of the tense relations between the United States and North Korea concerning the Agreed Framework and the 6PT discussions. Looking forward, it will be interesting to follow the developments of the strained relationship between the United States and North Korea with the new Trump administration.

© Henri Fernandez. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] S. Agaian, "North Korean Nuclear Capability," Physics 241, Stanford University, Winter 2011.

[2] G. J. Moore "America's Failed North Korea Nuclear Policy: A New Approach." Asian Perspect. 32, No. 4, 9 (2008).

[3] P. Kerr. "North Korea Nuclear Talks Stall," Arms Control Today 35, No. 10, 33 (December, 2005)