KGB knew of N Korea nuclear bomb

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The Independent Online
IN A top-secret report to the Soviet leadership, the KGB warned Mikhail Gorbachev four years ago that North Korea had developed a 'nuclear explosive device' but did not intend to test it so as to conceal the extent of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

The report, signed by Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the KGB from 1988 until his arrest in August 1991 for plotting to oust Mr Gorbachev, was published yesterday by the respected daily newspaper Izvestia.

The former Soviet leader confirmed through a spokesman at the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow that he had received reports on the nuclear intentions of various countries, including North Korea. But, added Vladimir Polyakov on the phone, 'The real sense of that material (on North Korea) was a supposition about the preparation and possible existence of nuclear charge. It did not state it existed definitely.'

The KGB report, which Izvestia said was sent to the Kremlin on 22 February 1990, cited 'information from reliable sources' that North Korea 'has been actively continuing its research and design work aimed at the creation of nuclear weapons'. Personally in charge of the programme, the KGB advised, was Kim Il Sung's son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Il. 'According to available data, the development of the first nuclear explosive device has been completed at the DPRK nuclear research centre in the town of Yongbyon.' The KGB said at the time it was 'taking additional measures to verify the reports.'

The document contradicts the public position taken by senior Russian officials in recent days that North Korea has no bomb and would seem to coincide more with the views of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Andrei Kozyrev, Russia's Foreign Minister, said earlier this week: 'By all appearance, North Korea does not have a nuclear bomb at present.' Sharing the same view are officials in the Ministry of Atomic Energy.