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Expert Questions Report on North Korea Nuclear Arms


A man watches a TV news program showing the file footage of the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A man watches a TV news program showing the file footage of the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, March 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A former International Atomic Energy official has raised questions about claims made in a new report on North Korea. The report warns that North Korea could manufacture 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.

The warning came from the US-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University in the United States. The institute released the report last month. It said the North Korean government could greatly expand its nuclear and missile programs over the next five years. The report said that such an expansion could present “a serious challenge to the United States, Northeast Asia and the international community.”

Ollie Heinonen formerly served as deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He spoke with VOA’s Korean Service. Mr. Heinonen said he would be surprised if North Korea can make as many nuclear weapons in the next few years as the report predicted. He said he does not think any country has ever made 100 nuclear weapons in six years -- not even the United States.

Mr. Heinonen said the report examined the amount of nuclear material the North Korean government has -- not nuclear weapons. In his words, “there is a difference between having nuclear material for a weapon and having a nuclear weapon.” He added that a nuclear weapon is difficult to make and takes a lot of time to manufacture.

I’m Jim Tedder.

Baik Sungwon and Jee Abbey Lee reported this story. Christopher Jones-Cruise wrote it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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