Why did the USSR help North Korea with their nuclear program?
April 20, 2017 3:43 PM   Subscribe

I've been doing some research on North Korea's nuclear program just so I know more about the current situation. I am trying to find out if the Soviets actually helped the North Koreans get nukes, and what motivated the USSR to help North Korea with their nuclear program in the first place.

Wikipedia says that the Soviet Union starting helping North Korea with their nuclear program in 1956, but people on Quora and some other sources say that the USSR didn't help North Korea with nukes. Does anyone know the real story here or can point me to accurate sources?
posted by loganabbott to Science & Nature (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Wikipedia says that the Soviet Union starting helping North Korea with their nuclear program in 1956, but people on Quora and some other sources say that the USSR didn't help North Korea with nukes.

These statements are not necessarily contradictory. Nuclear program does not directly imply nukes. The Wikipedia article North Korea and weapons of mass destruction goes into more detail.
The nuclear program can be traced back to about 1962, when North Korea committed itself to what it called "all-fortressization", which was the beginning of the hyper-militarized North Korea of today.[8] In 1963, North Korea asked the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons, but was refused. The Soviet Union agreed to help North Korea develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, including the training of nuclear scientists. Later, China, after its nuclear tests, similarly rejected North Korean requests for help with developing nuclear weapons.[9]

Soviet specialists took part in the construction of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center[10] and began construction of an IRT-2000 research reactor in 1963, which became operational in 1965 and was upgraded to 8 MW in 1974.[11] In 1979 North Korea indigenously began to build in Yongbyon a second research reactor, an ore processing plant and a fuel rod fabrication plant.[12]

North Korea's nuclear weapons program dates back to the 1980s. Focusing on practical uses of nuclear energy and the completion of a nuclear weapon development system, North Korea began to operate facilities for uranium fabrication and conversion, and conducted high-explosive detonation tests.[8] In 1985 North Korea ratified the NPT, but did not conclude the required safeguards agreement with the IAEA until 1992.[13] In early 1993, while verifying North Korea's initial declaration, the IAEA concluded that there was strong evidence this declaration was incomplete. When North Korea refused the requested special inspection, the IAEA reported its non-compliance to the UN Security Council. In 1993, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT, but suspended that withdrawal before it took effect.
posted by zamboni at 3:53 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


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