January 06, 2011 12:24
The International Atomic Energy Agency believes it would take several years to find out how much plutonium North Korea has secured to make nuclear weapons even if the North fully cooperates with inspectors, a diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks shows.
A cable from Vienna dated Dec. 2, 2009 contains minutes of a meeting between U.S. Congressmen on Nov. 10 and Tariq Rauf of the IAEA's Office of External Relations and Policy Coordination, where the issue was discussed.
Rauf said it would take several years to verify how much unreported plutonium has been misappropriated for nuclear weapons since the early 1990s.
The exact figure matters to predict the North's moves as it promoted the first nuclear crisis in the early 1990s, when it told the IAEA it extracted 90 g of plutonium for experimental purpose, but the watchdog found that it in fact reprocessed over 10 kg between 1989 and 1991.
During the six-party talks in 2008, North Korea said it has 30-31 kg of plutonium, but international community remains suspicious of the figure, saying it may not include plutonium extracted until the early 1990s.
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