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North Korea (Nuclear Capability)

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the nuclear capability of the Democratic Republic of North Korea; and if she will make a statement. (109714)

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) claims to have reprocessed the 8,000 spent fuel rods removed from the 25 megawatt reactor at Yongbyon in 1994. If these claims are true, the DPRK could have extracted sufficient plutonium for up to five nuclear warheads from this spent fuel.

North Korea's partially successful nuclear test on 9 October has added to our concerns over its nuclear programme. Their actions jeopardise regional stability in north-east Asia and pose a clear threat to international peace and security. The measures set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1718 send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate acts of this nature.

We continue to believe the DPRK is pursuing efforts towards production of highly enriched uranium (HEU), based on centrifuge enrichment technology which the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan has admitted supplying to the DPRK. But we have no information on how successful these attempts to produce HEU have been.