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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.

  • January 20, 1977

    Telegram, Embassy of Hungary in the Soviet Union to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    North Korea intends to not fulfill trade obligations with the Soviet Union in order to fix the increasing economic problems. North Korea again asks for a nuclear power plant, as means of increasing prestige.

  • February 16, 1977

    Memorandum, Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    The DPRK reaches out to other socialist nations to gain support for its 4-point proposals. They include references to the DPRK developing nuclear power and the possibility of nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.

  • March 03, 1977

    Report, Embassy of Hungary in Belgium to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    The socialist countries at The World Conference for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea draft a resolution that demands withdrawal of American troops from South Korea, as well as cessation of other states providing South Korea with defense capabilities.

  • May 18, 1977

    Telegram, Embassy of Hungary in the Soviet Union to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    Soviet-DPRK economic relations make slow progress. The North Koreans continue to ask for a nuclear power plant, which the Soviets will not supply. Kim Il Sung is to make an official visit to Moscow.

  • November 03, 1977

    Report, Permanent Mission of Hungary to the International Organizations in Vienna to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    The DPRK's representation to Austria and Czechoslovakia is under-staffed and has little knowledge of international organizations. They are further impeded by language barriers. Hungary encourages an upgrade in representation.

  • November 21, 1977

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

    Soviet-DPRK delegations meet, but agree to not discuss North Korea's economic problems repaying the Soviet Union, or the Soviet Union's refusal to supply a nuclear power plant to North Korea.

  • August 30, 1978

    Report, Hungarian National Atomic Energy Commission to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    The socialist countries coordinate their delegations before an IAEA Conference. The Cuba delegation states it can not afford to sign the NPT, citing American presence in Guantanamo.

  • February 17, 1979

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

    The DPRK asks Czechoslvakia to construct a nuclear power plant, and also for uranium-mining equipment.

  • February 23, 1979

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

    The Hungarian Ambassador in North Korea reports on the construction of the Kori Nuclear Power Plant in South Korea, highlighting that South Korea's projected power output would eventually surpass North Korea's by three-fold. As a result, North Korea was anxious to build its own nuclear power plant and perhaps even an atomic bomb.

  • March 12, 1981

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

    The Soviet Union continues talks with the DPRK regarding economic issues. The Soviet Union extends North Korea's credit, yet continues to defer the construction of the repeatedly requested power plant. Sino-Korean relations are also criticized.

  • April 30, 1981

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

    A North Korean delegations visits technical universities and colleges in Czechoslovakia and the GDR. North Korea urgently seeks to send post-graduate students and trainees to study in fields related to nuclear physics, laser technology, etc.

  • March 07, 1983

    Memorandum, Hungarian Academy of Sciences to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    The DPRK asks Hungary to train Korean experts on the operation and management of a nuclear power plant.

  • April 06, 1983

    Letter, Hungarian Foreign Ministry to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

    Hungary politely defers North Korea's request for training on a nuclear power plant to the Soviets.

  • August 04, 1983

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

    The Bulgarian Embassy in North Korea urges the DPRK to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea won't commit, citing presence of US nuclear weapons in South Korea

  • May 30, 1984

    Stenographic Record of Conversation between Erich Honecker and Kim Il Sung

    Stenographic record of the first meeting between Kim Il Sung and Erich Honecker upon the former's 1984 official visit to the GDR. This is the morning session of 30 May 1984. Kim does most of the talking. Kim Il Sung discussed the economic situation in North Korea, objectives and problems of energy generation, the educational system. He asked the GDR for labor and cooperation in the education of specialists. He wanted to sign a long-term agreement of economic cooperation along with the intended friendship treaty. Kim Il Sung also evaluated the military situation in South Korea, explaining the problems of negotiations and reunification with the South. Honecker proposed the creation of an agreement towards economic and scientific cooperation between GDR and North Korea.

  • March 09, 1985

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

    The Soviet Union and DPRK enter negotiations to build a nuclear power plant, and "practically reach a preliminary agreement." North Korea views the construction as being a means of increasing economic and political prestige.

  • October 18, 1986

    Report on a Erich Honecker's visit to North Korea, October 1986

    During the meeting with Kim Il Sung, Honecker talked about economic deployment in the GDR and German foreign policy. Kim Il Sung explained Korea's economic problems and objectives, as well as Korea's external position. Treaties for economic cooperation were signed.

  • May 30, 1988

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

    Negotiations continue at the Soviet-Korean Intergovernmental Economic, Technical, and Scientific Commission on the construction of a nuclear power plant in North Korea. No agreement is reached on selecting a construction site.

  • October 02, 1991

    Record of Conversation between F.G. Kunadze and Son Seong-Pil

    G.F. Kunadze pressures North Korean Ambassador Son Seong-pil about the DPRK concluding an agreement on nuclear safeguards with the IAEA.

  • October 08, 1991

    Record of Conversation between G.F. Kunadze and Yu Hongliang

    G.F. Kunadze asks that China to "exert influence" on North Korea and have it conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.