Cargo on a ship bound for North Korea and intercepted in Japan has been identified as nuclear materials today. The materials were found on the vessel, which had sailed from the Chinese port of Dalian, when it berthed in Tokyo harbor last August. After six months’ testing, the Japanese authorities confirmed they were aluminum alloy rods, which are normally used in nuclear centrifuges, of which North Korea has, in the past, claimed to have “thousands.”
The rods, which were being stored by a firm in a warehouse in Tokyo, were ordered to be handed over by the Japanese Government, which cited a law from 2010 which allows it to intercept cargo bound for the DPRK which it suspects to be nuclear-related. Last month, North Korea undertook a third successful nuclear test, which its ally China condemned.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s rotund leader, has upped his war rhetoric over the past few months, threatening nuclear war with the U.S. and its allies, scrapping the North-South peace pact, and closing the telephone hotline connecting it to its neighbor. Over the past few weeks, Korean state TV has shown the dictator meeting with front-line soldiers and exhorting them to “cut their enemies’ windpipes” in the event of hand-to-hand fighting.