North Korea Claims to Have Weaponized Plutonium

BEIJING, China (CNN): Senior North Korean officials say the communist regime has “weaponized” its stockpile of plutonium, according to a U.S. scholar, in a move suggesting that North Korea may have significantly hardened its stance on nuclear negotiations.

Selig Harrison, one of the few U.S. scholars granted access to senior North Korean officials, said at a news conference in Beijing that the officials told him they had weaponized 30.8 kilograms of plutonium, enough for four or five warheads.

The director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, who just returned from a five-day visit to Pyongyang, said senior North Korean officials told him the warheads will not be open for inspection.

If it is true, the news portends a gloomy outlook for the future of the six-party talks that began in 2003 with the goal of getting North Korea to end its nuclear program.

“It does change the game,” Harrison said.

South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia are participating in the talks.