North Korea asks for U.S. retreat as nuclear facility stays active

North Korea is demanding the United States remove all its weapons from the South.

North Korea accused the United States of deploying nuclear weapons to the peninsula. All U.S. tactical nuclear weapons were removed from peninsula in 1991. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

The call for diminished U.S. military presence comes at a time when Pyongyang may have been reprocessing an “undetermined” amount of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, according to U.S. analysts.

North Korea’s national committee on emergency preparedness and anti-nuclear warfare exercises said 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of a U.S. decision to deploy nuclear weapons to the peninsula.
According to the committee’s spokesman, the United States announced the decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Jan. 29, 1957, and more than 1,720 tactical nukes were in the South until the mid-1980s.

The United States did deploy tactical nuclear weapons in 1957, but the total number was close to 700, according to Yonhap.

All the weapons were removed from the peninsula in 1991, but North Korea claimed the United States continues to deploy strategic nuclear assets in the statement issued Saturday, local time.

The United States is risking war, Pyongyang stated.

“Those who heighten the crisis of war should reflect on their sins,” the North Korean committee said. “All war equipment, including U.S. invading forces and nuclear weapons in South Korea must be withdrawn.”

Pyongyang’s demands come at a time when the country continues to show no interest in denuclearization.

U.S. analysts writing on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, state the radiochemical laboratory at Yongbyon has been the site of “at least two unreported reprocessing campaigns to produce an undetermined amount of plutonium that can further increase North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile.”

Continued monitoring is needed, the analysts say.

By Elizabeth Shim