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martes, 16 de enero de 2018

U.S. scientist says North Korea has up to 60 bombs at nuclear facility

The ongoing battle of words between the United States and North Korea has been ramping up for some time. It’s difficult to know how serious the situation is, as some of it has been fought on Twitter, with President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un taking shots at each other about “nuclear buttons.”

Now, however, one scientist says the threat is real. Sig Hecker, the former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, has visited North Korea seven times and says he’s seen evidence that they have been progressing their nuclear weapons program; he estimates that the country has between 30 and 60 nuclear weapons available.

That’s shocking news, to say the least.

The Visits

Hecker was invited to visit Yongbyon, the secretive North Korean nuclear facility, in 2004. Since then, he has been back six more times to view their progress.

He spoke with CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday:

They bring in, and it’s a red metal box about yea big, about this thick.  They open the metal box. They take out a white wooden box. White wooden box has a slide off top. So they slide off the top. I look in there. The director says, “Over here, this glass jar. That’s our product. That’s the plutonium.

Hecker would know plutonium when he sees it; as the man formerly responsible for United States nuclear development, he’s well-versed in what to look for.

The scientist says the box handed to him was real.

Robert Carlin, a former CIA employee who has studied the North Koreans for over 40 years, says the strange idea of North Korea showing an American scientist their nuclear secrets isn’t so strange after all.

Nobody would believe them otherwise, right? People would say, “Oh, they’re just posturing. Oh, it’s propaganda.” So how are you going to convince the Americans? You get an expert who knows plutonium when he sees it and you, you hand it to him. You say, “Here it is. What do you think?”

What Does It All Mean?

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said the U.S. cannot accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

Kim Jong Un has responded by declaring that North Korea will never give up its program and will continue to see the United States as its biggest threat.

Carlin says there’s a basic misunderstanding in Washington about how to view the North Korean nuclear debate.

“I think they understand us better than we understand them” he told the Daily Mail. “We’re still weighed down with a lot of stereotypes and they’re going to trip us up.”

The situation is clearly a tense one and hopefully, leaders of both countries can arrive at a reasonable path for moving forward.