Defector reports N Korea has five nuclear bombs

NORTH KOREA has made five nuclear bombs already and does not intend to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid from the United States, according to the son-in-law of the Communist country's Prime Minister, who has defected to South Korea.

Kang Myong Do, 36, the son-in-law of Kang Song San, the Prime Minister of North Korea, sowed the seeds for a real-life John Le Carre mystery among intelligence agencies in Seoul yesterday, with his claim that North Korea's nuclear weapons' programme has gone further than the worst fears of the West.

North Korea is due to reopen high-level talks with the US in Geneva next week over its nuclear programme, which it claims is for civilian use. The US is optimistic about the chances of success, but warns it will not hesitate to turn to United Nations-sponsored sanctions, if the North Koreans revert to their old prevaricating strategy.

Washington is encouraged by the fact that Pyongyang has agreed to restart the nuclear talks so quickly after their suspension, following Kim Il Sung's death three weeks ago. It is also cheered by signals in the state media that it will be willing to give in to demands for full-scale nuclear inspections in exchange for economic aid.

But the claims by Mr Kang have confused the Americans. Mr Kang said that after making five nuclear warheads, North Korea is working on missiles that could deliver the devices over long distances. 'North Korea is not simply trying to use its nuclear development programme as a negotiating card,' he said in Seoul yesterday. 'It sees nuclear development as the only means to maintain Kim Jong Il's regime.'

Up to now, the worst-case scenario of the CIA has been that North Korea was able to make one or, at most, two primitive nuclear bombs. This is based on a mysterious shutdown of the nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, for 100 days in 1989, during which the CIA estimates that enough plutonium could have been extracted from irradiated fuel rods in the reactor core to make two small devices. If it is true that North Korea has five devices, an urgent question is where the extra plutonium came from.

It is not clear Mr Kang is telling the truth. According to Seoul, he defected via a third country in May, giving South Korean intelligence agents two months to debrief him and, conceivably, prime him with whatever propaganda story they wanted. Alternatively, Mr Kang's defection may have been planned by North Korea to give the impression that its nuclear programme is more advanced than it is, thus increasing its bargaining power.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has a track record...

Recruitment Genius: Solar Field Sales Executive

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Help Desk Support

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable