Thursday, June 09, 2005

N. Korea Admits Building More Nuclear Bombs

ABC News
N. Korea Admits Building More Nuclear Bombs
Top Official Discusses Nuclear Ambitions; Millions of N. Koreans Forced Into Farming

Jun. 8, 2005 - In an exclusive interview with ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan said the country is in the process of building additional nuclear bombs and would neither confirm nor deny the missiles' ability to hit the United States.

Woodruff is part of an ABC News team recently granted rare access to the country. During the interview, Gwan -- the country's chief nuclear negotiator -- spoke openly about North Korea's nuclear ambitions:

BOB WOODRUFF: Do you have a nuclear bomb?

KIM GYE GWAN: We do have.

WOODRUFF: How many do you have?

GWAN: I should say that we have enough nuclear bombs to defend against a U.S. attack. As for specifically how many we have, that is a secret.

WOODRUFF: Are you building more bombs now?

GWAN: Yes.

Despite those claims, many analysts are not convinced North Korea has nuclear weapons because it has not conducted any nuclear tests. In the past several years it has tested long-range missiles, however.

WOODRUFF: Do have a missile capable of hitting the mainland United States?

GWAN: I think I've said our nuclear program is ... not aimed at attacking the U.S.

WOODRUFF: It's not aimed there, but does it have the capability of reaching there?

GWAN: We don't have any intention at all of attacking the U.S. So you can't even speculate about that kind of thing.

WOODRUFF: Do have the ability to put a nuclear warhead on your long range missiles?

GWAN: I want you to know that our scientists have the knowledge, comparable to other scientists around the world.

WOODRUFF: Is that a yes or a no?

GWAN: You can take it as you like.

Struggles of Daily Life

Life remains very difficult in North Korea, where food shortages and occasional blackouts are common occurrences. To save power, the traffic lights in the capital, Pyongyang, have been turned off for more than four years. Highly trained police direct the traffic at intersections instead.

The campus at Kim Il Sung University, normally teeming with 12,000 students, is empty. The students, along with an estimated 3 million other North Koreans, were ordered out of the cities this month and directed into rice fields to help plant the new crop.

North Korea is in the midst of a major food crisis, and is working to increase its agricultural production.

"Our leader Kim Jung Il told us to mobilize," one North Korean engineer-turned-farmer told ABC News. "A person cannot work without food."

The North Koreans cannot return to the city until the farming is done, and they work without farming equipment -- using only their hands.

ABC News' Bob Woodruff filed this report on "World News Tonight."