World

North Korea Actively Building Nuclear Weapons

| by Lauren Briggs

A top U.S. official confirmed on Oct. 25 that North Korea is building nuclear weapons and the U.S. government has all but given up on trying to stop them from doing so.

"I think the notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause," said James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, reports The Guardian.

As fears grow that the Asian country will soon possess a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit U.S. soil, Clapper declared that a realistic best case scenario for the U.S. looks like a cap, not a ban, on North Korea's nuclear power.

"They are under siege and they are very paranoid, so the notion of giving up their nuclear capability, whatever it is, is a nonstarter with them," he added.

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The U.S. has long denounced the notion of North Korea creating nuclear arms, and the state department confirmed on Oc. 25 that they still have a zero-tolerance policy on the matter.

"To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state," President Barack Obama said in a statement in September. He went on to add that he would "take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions."

Though the U.S. has urged North Korea to denuclearize and has offered incentives, negotiations have stalled for years, and sanctions have done little to hinder its nuclear weapons programs.

"We want to continue to see a verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula," said state department spokesman John Kirby, adding that the U.S. intends to continue its aid-for-disarmament talks with the Asian nation. "We want to see a return to the six-party talk process and that means we need to see the North show a willingness and an ability to return to that process which they haven't done yet."

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North Korea has already tested at least two missiles in October, at least one of which could be a long-range KN-08 missile capable of reaching the continental U.S., notes The Washington Post. Analysts have said that North Korea's rocket scientists are several years away from being able to create such a missile and are instead focusing on crafting intermediate-range ones that can reach as far as Guam, though the U.S. is notoriously imprecise in predicting North Korea's missile progress.

Sources: The Guardian (2), The Washington Post / Photo credit: Lockheed Martin/Wikimedia Commons

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