UN report: North Korea developed nuclear program in 2020

New UN reports says North Korea maintained and developed nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2020 in violation of sanctions.

Elad Benari ,

North Korea
North Korea

North Korea maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2020 in violation of international sanctions, a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Monday finds.

The report by independent sanctions monitors said Pyongyang "produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure" while continuing to seek material and technology for those programs from abroad.

The annual report to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden took office.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, tried to reached an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

Since those talks broke down, North Korea has conducted several tests of ballistic missiles.

The UN report said an unnamed member state had assessed that, judging by the size of North Korea's missiles, "it is highly likely that a nuclear device" could be mounted on to long-range, medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles.

"The Member State, however, stated it is uncertain whether the DPRK had developed ballistic missiles resistant to the heat generated during re-entry," into the atmosphere, the report said. North Korea's formal name is Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

A State Department spokesperson said on Monday the Biden administration planned a new approach to North Korea, including a full review with allies "on ongoing pressure options and the potential for any future diplomacy", according to Reuters.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened last month to expand his nuclear arsenal and stated that the fate of relations with the United States depends on whether it abandons its “hostile policy”.