19 October, 2006

Inside North Korea

Fascinating, fact-filled feature on North Korea in Der Spiegel: "Absurdistan With the Bomb".

One of the last experts to have seen Yongbyon in operation described to SPIEGEL what the situation was like at the end of 2002: "It's a massive site, with lots of very competent scientists -- on the one hand. But then there was a strange contradiction: We asked to see two buildings which we had not been allowed to inspect. After a great deal of hesitation the doors were opened. The scientists were using one hall to secretly distill vodka. In the other they were producing cooking spoons out of aluminum. At the time, these things weren't available in North Korea. On the black market the goods could be sold, and provided an extra source of income for the scientists." North Korea must be the only nuclear power in the world which is so poor that its top scientists are forced to spend their free time making kitchen utensils.