“China Warns North Korean Threat Rising”
The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2015, p.A1
“China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production well beyond most previous U.S. figures, suggesting Pyongyang can make enough warheads to threaten regional security for the U.S. and its allies. The latest Chinese estimates, relayed in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists, showed that North Korea may already have 20 warheads, as well as the capability of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, according to people briefed on the matter. … An increase in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal feeds international concern about proliferation from a country that, U.S. officials said, previously exported nuclear technology to Syria and missile components to Iran, Yemen and Egypt. … Relations between North Korea and China have deteriorated since Xi Jinping became China’s leader in 2012 and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, took power following the death of his father in late 2011. China, which is North Korea’s largest investor, aid donor and trade partner, has for most of the past decade underestimated Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, nuclear experts said, including its capacity to produce fissile material. … Until recently, the Chinese ‘had a pretty low opinion of what the North Koreans could do,’ said David Albright, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. ‘I think they’re worried now.'”
Quickie analysis: Sometimes a crazy neighbor is considered harmless. But a crazy neighbor amassing weapons usually is not.