North Korea has been trying to sell materials for nuclear weapons online, according to a United Nations report.
Pyongyang is best at finding new ways to stir up trouble for the international community. When it’s not illegally testing ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons, it is actively contributing to the proliferation of dangerous weaponry. The U.N. reports that the reclusive regime attempted to sell a type of lithium metal used to miniaturize nuclear weapons for warhead development to an unidentified buyer online last year, The Wall Street Journal revealed.
The department that tracks Kim Jong-un’s weapons programs discovered the attempted sale.
A state-run front company, Green Pine Associated Corp., which specializes in maritime military equipment, submarines, and missile systems, tried to sell Lithium-6 online. The U.N. believes that an official in the North Korean embassy in Beijing helped coordinate the deal.
The sale has raised concerns about North Korea’s interest in exporting its weapons systems, specifically its nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has sold ballistic missiles to Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen, and North Korea is believed to have built the nuclear reactor in Syria that Israel destroyed ten years ago.
The U.N. is also worried that the sale indicates that North Korea has excess Lithium-6 on hand. “This sales attempt suggests that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has access to remaining quantities of the material,” the report explained.
Lithium-6, commonly known as enriched lithium, is used to make tritium, which can significantly enhance the explosive power of a nuclear weapon. With Lithium-6, countries can develop nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear bombs, with far less fissionable material.
North Korea is believed to naturally have large amounts of lithium in its soil.
Experts told reporters that the purity of the lithium the North tried to sell may reveal important information about the buyer’s intentions. Lower purity levels could be mean tritium production; higher levels could mean hydrogen bombs. Neither option is in the best interest of the international community.
Equally disconcerting is the fact that the North has enriched lithium and understands its uses. After North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test last September, the regime announced that the North has learned how to miniaturize a nuclear bomb in such a way that it could be affixed to a ballistic missile.
“We have miniaturized, lightened and diversified our nuclear weapons,” North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun wrote in January, “They can be loaded on various delivery systems to be launched anytime and anywhere.” The North’s possession of enriched lithium may suggest that the North’s alarming claims are more than baseless bluster.
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