April 24 (Reuters) - The United States laid out intelligence on Thursday it says shows North Korea helped Syria build a suspected nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel last year.
Here are some facts about North Korea’s nuclear program.
- North Korea’s nuclear program dates back to at least the 1980s, and is centered at Yongbyon, about 60 miles (100 km) north of Pyongyang.
- It consists of a five-megawatt reactor, a fuel fabrication facility and a plutonium reprocessing plant, where weapons-grade material would be extracted from spent fuel rods.
- In October 1994, the United States and North Korea struck a deal to freeze Yongbyon in exchange for more proliferation-resistant reactors to be built by an international consortium. That project has been canceled.
- The U.S. confronted North Korea in October 2002 and accused it of having a clandestine plan to enrich uranium for weapons. North Korea, which denies having such a program, has ample supplies of natural uranium in its territory. In theory, it could enrich uranium away from the eyes of spy satellites.
- In February 2005, North Korea declared for the first time it had nuclear weapons.
- It conducted its first nuclear test with a plutonium-based bomb in October 2006.
- U.S. officials said the North has produced about 50 kg (110 pounds) of plutonium, which proliferation experts said conservatively would be enough for about eight nuclear weapons -- depending on the quality of the plutonium and weapon design.
DELIVERING A WEAPON
- Experts doubt that the North can make a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a warhead.
- The North test-fired seven missiles on July 2006, including its Taepodong-2 with a range that some experts said could one day reach U.S. territory. It fizzled soon after launch.
- The backbone of North Korea’s air force is an aging fleet of 780 fighters and 80 bombers built with Soviet technology, the South’s Defence Ministry said.
Sources: Reuters, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, intelligence reports, Congressional Research Service (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)