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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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North Korean Nuclear History

This is a collection of documents about North Korea's nuclear program. Drawn from the archives of North Korea's former communist allies, the collection highlights that North Korea's nuclear ambitions began as early as the 1950s.

  • April 02, 1946

    Protocol No. 18 of a Meeting of the Special Committee under the Council of Ministers of the USSR (Excerpt)

    Special dossier containing a resolution to send a Soviet geological prospecting party to survey North Korea for beryllium.

  • April 25, 1947

    Protocol No. 36 of a Meeting of the Special Committee under the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union (Excerpt)

    Special dossier refining aspects of the geological prospecting party to North Korea, to extract "rare elements".

  • April 12, 1948

    Protocol No. 61 of a Meeting of the Special Committee under the Council of Ministers of the USSR (Excerpt)

    Memorandum of the Special Committee of the CC CPSU postponing the geological prospecting for uranium in North Korea.

  • October 21, 1957

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK A.M. Puzanov for 21 October 1957

    Puzanov discusses the logistics of the display of mobile Soviet exhibits about the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in Pyongyang with Nam Il.

  • October 22, 1957

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK A.M. Puzanov for 22 October 1957

    Nam Il informs Puzanov of the leadership's approval of a display of a Soviet mobile scientific and technical exhibit on the peaceful use of atomic energy in Pyongyang.

  • April 19, 1958

    From the Journal of M.V. Zimyanin, Record of Conversation with DPRK Ambassador in the USSR Cde. Ri Sin-pal

    Ri San-pal requests that North Korea be allowed to join the International Epizootic Office and describes recent economic developments in the DPRK.

  • April 28, 1958

    From the Journal of Gromyko, Record of a Conversation with Ambassador Ri Sin-Pal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

    Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko records that North Korea was eager to start a nuclear program, though they insisted it was for “peaceful purposes.” The North Korean Ambassador requested Soviet scientific aid and was informed by Gromyko that the request would “undoubtedly be considered in a favorable spirit.”

  • May 06, 1958

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A. M. Puzanov for 6 May 1958

    Puzanov reports on the premises selected to house the Soviet exhibition on the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

  • May 12, 1958

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A. M. Puzanov for 12 May 1958

    Pak Geum-cheol and Puzanov are indignant with the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, while Nam Il desires for the Soviet Union to expand an exhibit about the peaceful use of atomic energy in Pyongyang.

  • May 15, 1958

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A. M. Puzanov for 15 May 1958

    Nam Il and Puzanov discuss a planned exhibit on the peaceful use of atomic energy in Pyongyang and a proposal for the construction of a Soviet industrial and agricultural exhibition in North Korea.

  • May 17, 1958

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A. M. Puzanov for 17 May 1958

    Nam Il learns that the Soviet government will receive a North Korean delegation to study the "use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes" while informing Puzanov of arrangements for representatives of the DPRK to attend party congresses in Eastern Europe.

  • May 20, 1958

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A. M. Puzanov for 20 May 1958

    Puzanov visits Nam Il and is informed on the DPRK delegation for familiarization with the use of atomic energy.

  • March 22, 1960

    Journal of Soviet Ambassador in the DPRK A.M. Puzanov for 22 March 1960

    Puzanov and Pak Seong-cheol comment on the introduction of nuclear weapons to South Korea by the United States.

  • August 24, 1962

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Seong-cheol

    The North Korean Foreign Minister discusses with the Soviet Ambassador the nuclear hegemony of the US and their ability to control nuclear proliferation.

  • September 20, 1962

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and German Ambassador Schneidewind

    German Ambassador Schneidewind discusses Kim Il Sung's reception of an East German delegation.

  • April 15, 1963

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and Czechoslovak Ambassador Moravec

    A North Korean colonel suggests that the Soviet Union should give advanced military technology to North Korea.

  • May 27, 1963

    Report, Embassy of Hungary in North Korea to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    A North Korean political officer speaks of Kim Il Sung's firm belief that an American nuclear attack could not destroy North Korea for their country would find refuge in the maze of underground caverns.

  • August 26, 1963

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and the German Ambassador

    North Korea makes inquiries into acquiring German nuclear information.

  • September 27, 1963

    Conversation between Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and Soviet Specialists in North Korea

    Soviet specialists in North Korea inform the Ambassador that the Koreans are attempting to acquire large amounts of uranium ore.

  • October 16, 1963

    Report on a Conversation between the Soviet Ambassador in North Korea Vasily Moskovsky and Soviet Specialists in North Korea

    Vasily Moskovsky relays that, according to one Korean engineer, North Korea can produce an atomic bomb.