Satellite adds to evidence of N Korean bomb plans

Previously unpublished satellite photographs of a secret nuclear reprocessing facility in North Korea, where International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were recently blocked as they attempted to take radioactive samples, have provided evidence that the country has an active nuclear bomb programme.

The commercially available photographs which contrast work on the site in 1986 and 1990 (see photograph, right), have been obtained by the Independent. They have been enhanced by computer and analysed by the Department of War Studies at King's College, London, and show that a facility near Yong byon could not possibly be the experimental nuclear reactor dating from 1965 and a new reactor under construction, as the North Koreans claim.

The evidence of these photographs coupled with powerful US satellite pictures of the site, which remain secret, and IAEA analysis appears to confirm that the country can produce the bomb. 'It is probable that North Korea has enough plutonium to manufacture a bomb,' said Patricia Lewis of Vertic, the London-based arms control treaty verification organisation. 'The issue now is whether they have the know-how to miniaturise a bomb that could be delivered by rocket and threaten Japan as well as South Korea.'

Senior diplomatic sources at the United Nations Security Council in New York fear that the crisis with the North Korean regime could quickly get out of control.

'With more than one million men under arms and 10,000 artillery pieces and rocket launchers almost within striking distance of Seoul we do not want to provoke a psychopathic response,' one official said yesterday as the Council met to hear a report from the Director of the IAEA, Hans Blix.

Comparison of enhanced images dating from 1986 (shown on the front page) with another photograph taken in 1990, provides prima facie evidence that North Korea is engaged in a full-scale nuclear bomb programme in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nuclear arms experts say.

The IAEA inpspectors also found circumstantial evidence that North Korea is engaged in a clandestine nuclear bomb programme on their recent visit. 'They saw evidence of continuing construction work at the so-called radiological laboratory but they could not verify whether or not they were making plutonium,' said IAEA spokesman David Kydd.

US spy satellite photographs shown in secrecy to the IAEA prompted the recent inspection of the site. North Korea's reaction to the inspection now threatens to become an international crisis, with the UN Security Council preparing to slap sanctions on Korea if it does not co-operate.

Those images show that a 'radiological laboratory' at the same site is in fact a single-storey building constructed up top of a plutonium reprocessing facility buried deep underground, according to nuclear weapons experts.

North Korea has angrily rejected US evidence on the grounds that it was provided by 'the enemy'.

More evidence was found from analysing nuclear fuel processed at other North Korean sites that far more enriched uranium has been processed into potential bomb-making material than the authorities admit to.

By computer enhancement of satellite photographs, Dr Bhupendra Jasani, a senior research fellow at King's College, has been able to show that there are no electricity transmission lines coming in or out of the site of a reactor due to come on line next year.

There are no anti-aircraft, gun or missile sites around Yongbyon, but by enlarging the photographs Dr Jasani has identified three military airfields as well as a large ammunition storage site around the facility.

TOKYO - South Korea's President Kim Young Sam arrived in Tokyo yesterday to enlist Japanese help in facing down an increasingly frantic and defiant North Korea as military tensions mounted on the Korean peninsula, writes Terry McCarthy.

President Kim warned that war might break out between the two Koreas, but said he was determined to remain firm in the face of Pyongyang's increasingly threatening rhetoric.

(Photograph and map omitted)

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
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Arts and Entertainment
As depicted in Disney's Robin Hood, King John was cowardly, cruel, avaricious and incompetent
film
Life and Style
Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, is now worth $5.3bn
tech
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: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have the right attitude,...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn