La Tarcoteca

La Tarcoteca

jueves, 27 de octubre de 2016

Explaining The Anarchy and our 200 years Struggle against Elites

Tctca Spanish Version
When we talk to those unfamiliar with  the political or even hostile to anarchism people do not matter that you spread to the seven winds that anarchy is not chaos or that you can organize without leaders. Whether you explain that there are many different ways of democracy and they have just opted for the parliamentary one. Do not matter that you prove that can be organization without government or states, that companies organize social work and their owners are just rentiers. People do not see it. Do not make the idea, they do not imagine not conceive. They only repeat what they hear from the media, cantine or work vox populi. Layer upon layer of prejudices are mounted one above the other like a pie. A cake that we will have to eat if you do not give a proper answer.

For these people  the definitions or abstract concepts are not worth, so we have to make an educational effort with examples and simple explanations to open the door to thinking. Small changes of meaning can be the key to transmit the idea.

Anarchist: The Enemies of Elites

S.XIX Socialism pointed to 'the Capitalist' as the Enemy, the one that exploits desposed people and force them to work for their livelihood, and so that extract its surplus and  benefit that bring him to enjoy privileges such as time and luxuries. His weapon were the 'Private Property' and violence. It became clear that for a society to prosper without destroying itself should be based in distribution and not in concentration.

Anarchists went further and realized that even among the dispossessed, even without capital, there are people who organize to take advantage of the human condition, self-privileged groups that have nothing to envy the powers of capital. They feel superior, act as superiors. Therefore our serfdom is not as much a question of money but of Power. All these privileged people who are organized to parasitate is call them whole Elites. The story of anarchy is a history of struggle against the elites, internal and external.

It can be understand that there is a battle between anarchy and all other political trends, and it is because there is an ancient battle between the people against the elites, at all levels, and in all political, economical and social places. There are many differences between Anarchism and all the res of political forms. All them look similar to anarchist because all they reproduce the same hierarchical patern, the Business model.

'Ark-on' against 'An-Ark'. The etymology places us as historical antagonists of Elites. In Greece, the ruler was called Archon, the 'Arj-on', who has the force, that who uses the force. With it they can fulfill their will, be it benign or malignant, acclaimed or infamous. 2000 years later Anarchists were organized, those fighting the Archons.

We have found ways to organize without elites and we actively practice them. To Combat without transform into what we reject. The basics to understand our organization is that in our quest for Equality Anarchy is not order by precepts, laws, rules, commands or orders, but by voluntarily accepted Principles. The most important among them are: Self-Management, Direct Action and Mutual Support.

Anarchy does not menas 'No Strenght', but 'Not to Force': 'Agaisnt Coertion'

Whether the concept of 'Anarchy' although successful presents some problems: 'An-Arje' means literally 'No force'. But there is strength in Anarchy, constructive as destructive. Perhaps a more accurate approximation would be 'Not to Force'. So 'An-' prefix can also be understood as 'against': 'Against the Use of Force'. Against Coertion.

In any case we are talking about Mutual Support, Solidarity, one of the foundations of Anarchy. It is the opposite of coercion and charity. Involves negotiated agreements, pact, consens, no imposition. And above all Reciprocity, the need to correspond, the need for each one voluntarily to accept its responsibility, beginning with each member of the group and following with the organizations. Our system does not work without Reciprocity.

We live in a 'state of law' governed by coercive laws as fundamental guiding principle established by elites, and defended by armies. There is no 'Social Contract' as Rousseau said, no one but the legislator or dictator chooses the law, a covenant of elites. It is the coertion of institutionalized violence. Could be some righteous law, of course, such as those governing them 'natural laws', but they are always imposed by definition, and therefore contrary to our spirit of Concordia. The 'State of Law' is the antagonist to the 'Anarchist Confederation'.

'Not to Obligate' is not the same as 'No Obligation'

'Anarchy' can not be really understand  as synonym of 'No Obligation', as the agreements reached must be respected, the group will ask you to act according to your declared intentions. You are not obligated by coercion, but by voluntary conviction to respect the agreements taken by you, and therefore you can be ask for responsibilities. You can act without 'being forced to compromise' but once committed no matters if you call it duty, obligation or will, there is a real due. That's the Responsibility.

Anarchy is not 'Lack of Power', is 'Against the Power' of a few. Against the elites

In Anarchy, unlike many philosophers and thinkers say, there is power, there is capacity, there is will and direction, decision, conflict of interest, reason and brute force to be channeled. Power in Anarchy is simply different to the hierarchical force to which all we are used to, that is, monarchy or oligarchy with lucky. It is the product of the synergy of its members and their collective cooperation. It is the result of combining the basic principles of Anarchism. It is hard to imagine for those who have not experienced.

The key word is Will. It is our will to distribute and share power, respect and support, so the power seems to disappear.

From the will for distribute, the distributed power, the decision of all, emanates the Social Will, something not seen in the capitalist system as is covered by the alienation mechanisms set by the elites, the Will of the Elites, the oligarchies. "Society does not exist, only individuals' said Margaret Thatcher.

'Political Companies' against 'Peer Assemblies'

The State powers are divided into three branches, executive, legislative and judicial, but each is hierarchically governed according to the Business Model. And this in the military way. Command and control: the Chief orders and decides, subordinates obey. Business model triumphed in military elites, creates elites. There is no difference between how to manage a corporation and how do the various parties or the branches of government. Right or wrong, fair or not, hierarchies creates elites and can not not to create them. They are elites iself. Which by own dynamics have different interest from those who claim to represent. We Anarchist strive every day to dissolve the power we have.

This Business model is a shortsighted, forgetful, interested power. It allows rapid adaptation to the circumstances, which is appreciated, but also infinite privileges, abuse and impunity and a lack of strategy and long-term responsibility that is simply harmful and leads to fatal mistakes. Blind obedience, will denial, Inequality, Individualism, Privilege, Legality without justice. They are therefore despised.

The Assambleary model is a medium to long term power, with lots of memory but massive and difficult to articulate. It is slow and being so controlled process is full of interruptions which leads to despair of its members. But it is assertive, inclusive and distributive, which leads to decisions with perspective and overall satisfaction. Freedom, equality, fraternity. Therefore it is desired.

Anarchy is not 'Ungoverned' is 'No Governors', without elites

Anarchy leads to 'pilotless boat' chaos, 'no one at the wheel'. In effect Government comes from the greek 'Kubernei' and means 'boat pilot'.

From the set of agreements emanates resolutions that control, order, organize, process, distribute and evaluate society. These are the general principles of the 'Governance'. But this is People's Governance, self government, the Self-Management, wich collides with the 'State Government' Institution, which is the superficial perception of this general idea.

Anarchism is different. If all we command nobody commands. To said tha in the Anarchy there is a government makes as much sense as saying that there is not. Is a decentralized, spread, extended Government of those who have voluntarily decided to sail together . It is at the same time a without-government and an anti-government of people who reject the hierarchical organization of elites. Is the government of the Horizontal Assemblies of Neighbors and workers. A power voluntarily diluted that requires constant cooperation and opposition. 'The boat sails, but differently guide' because it is a different system. There are is Government but is there is not, it seems more a lexicon that factual problem.

The system is simply different.

Anarchy is not 'Anti-Institutions' but 'Anti-elites'

The society in which we move is complex enough to understand that there are highly specialized or specific tasks that can not be developed without some previous knowledge, without preparation and organization crystallized in the  Institutions. But this does not mean that have to organize creating elites and granting privileges.

Institutions are Public or Private Companis, following the Business Model. The problem of the Institutions is easy to understand, because in the capitalist world are inefficient nepotism wells that serve the purposes of political patronage powers, being an extension of power and business.
- Public Offices are used as Gifts and Rewards.
- Contracts are bidirectional favorours and commissions.
- Services are a sub product of the Tax sisitem that extract the capital from the workers.

Make no mistake, Everything revolves around taxes, the way to squeeze the cityzens. We have to pay thousands of unwanted services in the way that there are thousands of meaningless laws. Companies whose sole purpose is profit, which gives an idea of ​​what a public service can offer. It is funny, when the administration has no founds services are closed, but executives and contracts remain, incurring in debts before stop paying these gifts to their clients.

It is our duty to break the Chain of Favours that connect politic and capitalist economy if we are to change our destiny. Luckily it is a chain with many links, many customers, many of them weak. They those favored, although they lived in squalor, would voluntarily obey the elites and will be always oppose to Equality and Justice. They do not know Solidarity, but Charity of the elites who extort them until they meet their willingness to maintain their privileges. We do not see another choice but to free them or avoid their interference.

Health! PHkl / tctca

To know more
Readed text video:

Posted 10.18.2016, edited 22.10.2016, translated to english 27.10.2016

miércoles, 26 de octubre de 2016

Work Speaking Tour on the Iberian Peninsula - Crimethinc November Tour

Source- Work Speaking Tour on the Iberian Peninsula | CrimethInc. Far East Blog
Spanis version

We published Work at the beginning of 2011, at the onset of the social movements precipitated by the economic crisis of 2008. The idea was to update the critique of capitalism for the 21st century, starting from lived experience rather than dusty theory. Over the following years, the authors traveled throughout the Americas and Europe, comparing notes with other participants in the demonstrations, riots, and revolutions that ensued.

The book has since appeared in German, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Korean, and most recently, Lithuanian. Congratulations to our Baltic comrades!

Now, to mark the publication of the Spanish edition of Work, our comrades there have organized a speaking tour visiting nine cities around the Iberian peninsula. What is really new about capitalism today, and how should this inform the ways we organize to stand up for ourselves? What can we learn from the limits that previous movements have reached? Could we really do away with work, profit, and property, or at least make it possible to imagine a world without them? Join us for a lively discussion.

November 5: Aldarull, Ateneo de Gracia, Barcelona
November 8: La Central, Barcelona
November 9: La Pantera Rossa, Zaragoza
November 10: La Fuga, Sevilla
November 11: Bakakai, Granada
November 14: Katakrak, Iruñea
November 15: Louise Michell, Bilbo
November 16: Biblioteca Subversiva Crimental-La Revoltosa, Gijón
November 17: Cambalache, Oviedo
November 18: Traficantes, Madrid
November 19: 1314, Madrid

lunes, 24 de octubre de 2016

IFA call for solidarity with DAF in Turkey & Kurdistan

Source: IFA call for solidarity with DAF in Turkey & Kurdistan 24.10.2016

Since the coup in Turkey and the imposition of the state of emergency, we have seen increased repression of many groups and movements operating there. This is not only aimed at the organizers of the coup, but a wide repression of democratic, socialist, Kurdish groups and including our anarchist comrades of the DAF (Devrimci Anarsist Faaliyet / Revolutionary Anarchist Action).

On two occasions, in 2010 and 2012, DAF has already been investigated by the state as a terror organization but these cases were dropped. Now, because of the state of emergency, the ability of DAF to organize is even more difficult. Their newspaper Meydan has been closed down and three new investigations have been started. This has also had serious economic impact for DAF.

In recent years DAF has been involved in many struggles including Gezi Park and supporting the Kurdish revolutionary process in Rojava and Bakur including refugee support. They are involved in workers’ and youth movement activities, ecological actions and anti-militarism, opposing patriarchy and supporting the LGBTI movement, and have been developing practices of collective living and economy and self-organisation.

IFA has already been involved in the solidarity movement with Rojava in many respects and in close cooperation with DAF. Now, due to the changed situation in Turkey, we must expand our support to DAF in more concrete ways. We also have to be vigilant of the real possibility of increased repression of DAF and the wider anarchist movement in the region and to be able to respond rapidly with strong solidarity actions. IFA is committed to this and we call on all friendly organizations to join us and also provide financial solidarity to DAF.

To support the call for solidarity & concrete support, you can contact the IFA secretariat

secretariat [at]

DAF website:

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2016

Chronic and Advances in the International Anarchist Congress in Frankfurt 2016. Anarchists of the World Unite!

All we individual and collective anarchists around the globe are not alone, there are thousands of comrades scattered throughout the world and fighting, dreamers, freethinkers and nonconformist, wishing to organize:

Our efforts can be coordinated by the IFA!

We encourage everyone to contact! It's free, without compromis and as easy as participate in a global campaign a year. Each one in its own way and according to its possibilities, formal or informal, all the comrades are important.

Through microorganization of global decentralize network, we ants will chop down elephants.

Health! PHkl / tctca
Tarcoteca Translation of: "Construir redes, fortalecer las luchas, Congreso Anarquista Internacional en Fráncfort" Tierra y Libertad, sep 2016, IFA-FAI

Its concluded the intense anarchist meeting in which participated hundreds of fellow delegates in the four days of discussions, labs and projects, during the International Anarchist Congress held in Frankfurt from 4th to 7th August 2016.

New South American organizations have joined to the IFA (International of Anarchist Federations) galaxy: the Valdivia Local Anarchist Federation  from Chile, the Initiative for the Brazilian Anarchist Federation and Mexican Anarchist Federation, during the Congress, while the Greek APO (Anarchist Political Organization) has request to joint. New organizational networks that enhance the possibility of social transformation in antiauthoritarian terms, particularly in Latin America.

Kurdish , Azeri, Turkish, Dutch, Croatian, Portuguese, American, New Zealand, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran and Venezuela anarchists realities have participated enriching the four days.

The times of collective discussion alternated with small groups workshops, to ease the confrontation and debate between present realities.

Coordinate the struggles and experiences, confront the international macro-process who looks enworsening in everyway from environmental conditions of life to the exploited classes work, in addition to the continuous reduction of the spaces of freedom together with the set of increasingly imposed policies by authoritarian governments and states, have been the focus of discussions and laboratories of Congress.

We have lacked spaces to compare experiences, to project and develop common campaigns against militarism, repression, patriarchy, solidarity and migrants support.

We will experience the success of these campaigns only over time and fight, but the fact of meeting and coordinate between geographically distant realities has already strengthened and enriched the experience we are carrying out on a local or national level.

The struggle for freedom and anarchy does not stop.

Get Organized!

jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016

The CNT-AIT Barcelona gives a 700 million slap to 'El Corte Ingles' Leviathan corp. Victory!

Tarcoteca Translation of:

The CNT-AIT Barcelona hits a 700 million € slap to 'El Corte Ingles': IECISA ban to work in the public sector for 3 years and lose its contracts

The Union Section of CNT trought the 'Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Catalonian Generalitat' [regional government agency] has managed, after 6 years in conflict, to the ban the contract of 'Informática El Corte Inglés' (IECISA) by the public sector for 3 years. This prohibition, enacted by 'Work Inspection' also affects 2 filian companies, Serikat and Cast-Info, and covers contracts and subcontracts with Local, Regional and National Administrations in any member State of the European Union.

To remember that the three companies and the same Catalonian Generalitat were sentenced in 2013, with a final judgment in 2015, for illegal move of workers and null dismissal due to the vulneration of Fundamental Rights (freedom of association, right to strike and right to judical protection). These facts are considered as Very Serious infringements and reason for disqualification under the 'Act on Public Sector Contracts'.

These 3 companies, whose anti-worker and abusive practices are widely known in the tecnology industry, and allied with the political mafia, have spent years looting the Public Coffers. Once again it shows that State and Employers go hand in hand with the aim to enrich at the expense of the Worker.

During the conflict ECI tried to buy the comrades with insulting amounts of money, them were move and finally fired away without even paying the current on course. After the judical sentence to reincorporate to work in 2013, the Human Resources dept decided to deny access to their workplace, paying payroll without going to work for 2 years, since the company is not interested in workers who defend their dignity. Nevertheless, they still stood, facing down the outsourcing mafias and their lackeys in the Administration.

All unpleasent happened to the companions and all the time invested, have been worthwhile as the beating that means for ICA not work for 3 years for the public sector will remind for long time the labor dispute with the CNT. And that is becouse the most of the 700 million euros annual billing by IECISA came from public contracts. Hundreds of millions of euros of losses because of their arrogance in believing that three precariuso could never face them. We also want to emphasize in the lucrative contracts with wich CTTI (a Generalitat public company) has awarded Cast-Info, how the 'General Council of Judiciary Power' [the highest judical institution in Spain] is one of the mean Serikat customers, or its more recent contract worth € 1 million with the Catalunyan Parlament.

Now they loose the cushy contracts. At least for 3 years these parasites will not get rich from the public money and we have been able to demonstrate the profound contempt we feel for all of them. We've made a deep wound and we still dream to completely finish them.
No Pity for this Merciless capitalist!
To know more
*El Corte Inglés is one of the 3 most important Comercial Center corporation in Spain with deep links with fascism, the PP Far Right party on Government and Media. Policial and Militar supplier, also in deals with the ISIS, with 150.000 uniforms. Is an IBEX mafia member and part of his capital comes from the throatcutter Al-Thani Qatar monarchy.

miércoles, 12 de octubre de 2016

Spain: Nothing to celebrate. painted appear in the Columbus statue in Barcelona and other monuments

Source- Nada que celebrar. Aparecen pintadas en la estatua de Colón en Barcelona y en otros monumentos – Tu diario de izquierdas
A painted at the foot of the image dedicated to religious Bernat Boïl, which is represented with a pathetic image of a crouching beside Indian. Now you can read: "12-O Res to celebrate" (Nothing to celebrate), along with a estelada, sickle, hammer and feminist symbol, in response to the events planned by the Spanish nationalism.

Solidarity with organized mexican students against corruption and institutional violence!

Solidarity with organized mexican students against corruption and institutional violence! – Ruptura Colectiva (RC)

Revolución Internacional / World Revolution
Ruptura Colectiva (RC)
On Friday, October 7, a group of organized students of “CECyT 5” in Mexico City, who maintain an indefinite strike, was brutally repressed by about 60 thugs outside the campus. Many of them were seriously injured, bruises and a boy has deep head wounds. The reasons for this movement are the corruption of the authorities that make dirty dealings of financial resources of public universities, and the constant violence against of all organizational efforts of students, parents and academics, conducted by the interim director Ernesto León Pineda, through these thugs groups, the Industrial Bank Police (PBI) and cowardly defamation on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
The authorities of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the CECyT 5 -defended by the mass-media- have initiated a number of legal demands against some students who only exercise their right to protest.
CECyT 5: ¡no más agresiones!

sábado, 8 de octubre de 2016

Call to Cooperation: Earth First! zine - we want your writing

Earth First! zine - we want your writing | Earth First! Action Reports
We want your writing!

For a semi-regular zine of activist reflections and actions.

This is an invitation for articles offering a critical analysis and reflections on Earth First! and related environmental and social justice direct action movements, how we organise and the actions we take. Contributions can be about actions in the UK or international. We also welcome book reviews, activist resources, short rants, illustrations, cartoons, poems and photographs. We suggest 500 – 2000 words for articles, but contact us if you want to do something longer.

We aim to have a zine in print and online by the Earth First! winter moot 2017. All articles will be copyleft and you can choose whether to write anonymously. Deadline November 30 2016.

Also contact us if you want to join our editorial collective or offer us funding. or contact us if you want to send an article by snail mail.

miércoles, 5 de octubre de 2016

What Theresa May Forgot: North Korea Used British Technology to Build Its Nuclear Bombs?- GR, D. Lowry

When Theresa May proclaims in Parliament that we need the £200 billion Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, writes David Lowry, just bear this in mind. It is a threat that the UK, global nuclear proliferator in chief, created in the first place, providing both the reactor technology and vital centrifuge materials to make North Korea’s nuclear dream come true.
The reactors at Calder Hall on the Sellafield site, then called Windscale, were opened by the young Queen Elizabeth in 1956. But it was never meant as a commercial civilian nuclear plant: the real purpose was to make plutonium for nuclear bombs.

” … today the threats from countries such as Russia and North Korea remain very real.”
In the debate on Trident nuclear WMD renewal in Parliament last week, the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, in a peculiarly ill-informed speech – demonstrating her political career that has virtually no experience in security or defence affairs – made, inter alia, the following unsupported assertions:
  • “North Korea has stated a clear intent to develop and deploy a nuclear weapon, and it continues to work towards that goal, in flagrant violation of a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
  • “North Korea is the only country in the world to have tested nuclear weapons this century, carrying out its fourth test this year, as well as a space launch that used ballistic missile technology. It also claims to be attempting to develop a submarine-launch capability and to have withdrawn from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”
  • “Based on the advice I have received, we believe that North Korea could already have enough fissile material to produce more than a dozen nuclear weapons. It also has a long-range ballistic missile, which it claims can reach America, and which is potentially intended for nuclear delivery.”
It reminded me of the similarly ill-informed former Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his speeches to MPs trying to win them over with dodgy ‘advice’ from British intelligence, to go to war by invading Iraq in 2003.
MPs have short memories, despite the Chilcot Report on the Iraq invasion disaster not yet two weeks old, and 472 motley MP fools backed May and Trident replacement. As with the Iraq invasion, MPs will in future have to admit their regrets at being fooled. And again, they ignord the thousands of demonstrators outside, calling for Trident to be abandoned.
Britain’s nuclear proliferation ‘secret’
But May was right in one way. North Korea has developed nuclear weapons. But what she did not say was they did it with copied British bomb-making technology.
There is significant evidence that the British Magnox nuclear plant design – which was primarily built as a military plutonium production factory – provided the blueprint for the North Korean military plutonium programme based in Yongbyon. Here is what Douglas (now Lord) Hogg, then a Conservative minister, admitted in a written parliamentary reply in 1994 to Labour MP Llew Smith:
We do not know whether North Korea has drawn on plans of British reactors in the production of its own reactors. North Korea possesses a graphite moderated reactor which, while much smaller, has generic similarities to the reactors operated by British Nuclear Fuels plc. However, design information of these British reactors is not classified and has appeared in technical journals.
The uranium enrichment programmes of both North Korea and Iran also have a UK connection. The blueprints of this type of plant were stolen by Pakistani scientist, A Q Khan, from the URENCO enrichment plant in The Netherlands in the early 1970s.
(see David Albright, Peddling Peril, 2010 pp 15-28, Free Press, New York)
This plant was – and remains – one-third owned by the UK government. The Pakistan government subsequently sold the technology to Iran, who later exchanged it for North Korean Nodong missiles.
A technical delegation from the A Q Khan Research Labs visited North Korea in the summer of 1996. The secret enrichment plant was said to be based in caves near Kumch’ang-ni, 100 miles north of the capital, Pyonyang, where US satellite photos showed tunnel entrances being built.
Hwang Jang-yop, a former aid to President Kim Il-sung (the grandfather of the current North Korean President) who defected in 1997, revealed details to Western intelligence investigators. (Levy A, Scott-Clark C Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Global Weapons Conspiracy, 2007, p.281, Atlantic Books)
Magnox machinations
Magnox is a now obsolete type of nuclear power plant ( except in North Korea) which was designed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in the early 1950s, and was exported to Italy and Japan The name ‘magnox’ comes from the alloy used to clad the fuel rods inside the reactor.
The reactors at Calder Hall on the Sellafield site – then called Windscale, and operated by the UKAEA – were opened by the young Queen Elizabeth on 17th October 1956. But it was never meant as a commercial civilian nuclear plant: the real purpose was to make plutonium for nuclear bombs.
The UKAEA official historian Kenneth Jay wrote about Calder Hall, in his short book of the same name, published to coincide with the opening of the plant, referring (p.88) to“major plants built for military purposes, such as Calder Hall.” Earlier, he wrote (p.80): ” … The plant has been designed as a dual-purpose plant, to produce plutonium for military purposes as well as electric power.”
The term Magnox also encompasses:
Nuclear ‘self sufficiency’ on the Korean peninsula
Olli Heinonen, senior fellow at the internationally reknown Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in the US has explained how North Korea obtained its uranium enrichment capability. He wrote five years ago:
The pre-eminence of Juche, the political thesis of Kim Il Sung, stresses independence from great powers, a strong military posture, and reliance on national resources. Faced with an impoverished economy, political isolation from the world, and rich uranium deposits, nuclear power-both civilian as well as military-fulfills all three purposes.
History and hindsight have shown a consistency in North Korea’s efforts to develop its own nuclear capability. One of the first steps North Korea took was to assemble a strong national cadre of nuclear technicians and scientists. In 1955, North Korea established itsAtomic Energy Research Institute. In 1959, it signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to train North Korean personnel in nuclear related disciplines. The Soviets also helped the North Koreans establish a nuclear research center and built a 2 MW IRT nuclear research reactor at Yongbyon, which began operation in 1969.
Throughout the 1970s, North Korea continued to develop its nuclear capabilities, pursuing a dual track approach that was consistent with the idea of nuclear self-reliance. While engaging in discussions to obtain Light Water Reactors (LWRs) from the Soviet Union, North Korea proceeded with parallel studies on graphite moderated gas cooled reactors, using publicly available information based on the Magnox reactor design.
North Korea also carried out plutonium separation experiments at its Isotope Production Laboratory (IPL), and successfully separated plutonium in the same decade. The North Koreans worked on the design of a reprocessing plant for which, the chemical process was modeled after the Eurochemic plant.
Eurochemic was a research plant dedicated to the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. It was owned by thirteen countries which shared and widely published technologies developed. The plant, located in Dessel, Belgium, operated from 1966 to 1974.
When negotiations to acquire four LWRs from the Soviet Union failed, North Korea had already embarked on its indigenous nuclear program. Throughout the 1980s, North Korea constructed a 5 MWe reactor, fuel fabrication plant, and a reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, with no known documented external help and with minimal foreign equipment procured.
When the joint statement on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was concluded in December 1991, all three facilities had been fully operational for a number of years, with two additional (50 MWe and 200 MWe) graphite moderated gas cooled reactors under construction.
Why enrich the people when you can enrich uranium?
North Korea’s closed society and isolationist position has made it immensely difficult to accurately gauge its nuclear activities. Pyongyang has gone to great lengths to hide much of its nuclear program, including its enrichment route.
Nevertheless, there have been indications, including procurement related evidence, that point in the direction that North Korea has been actively pursuing enrichment since the mid-1990s, with likely exploratory attempts made up to a decade earlier.
It is clear that North Korea received a key boost in its uranium enrichment capability from Pakistan through the A Q Khan network. Deliveries of P-1 and P-2 centrifuges, special oils, and other equipment from Pakistan to North Korea in the late 1990s were acknowledged by former Pakistani President General P. Musharraf in his memoirs, In the Line of Fire.
President Musharraf also wrote that, separately, North Korean engineers were provided training at A Q Khan’s Research Laboratories in Kahuta under the auspices of a government-to-government deal on missile technology that had been established in 1994. In all likelihood, North Korea also received the blue prints for centrifuges and other related process equipment from the Khan network during that period of time.
In the late 1980s, North Korea acquired vacuum equipment from a German company. While such equipment was primarily meant for North Korea’s fuel fabrication plant then under construction, some of the vacuum pumps could have been used for enrichment experiments. But additional attempts made in 2002 to again acquire vacuum technology after the completion of the fuel fabrication plant strongly pointed to its use for enrichment purposes.
Evidence of North Korea’s procurement activities in the late 1990s to the early 2000s showed its objective to achieve industrial or semi-industrial scale enrichment capacity, based on a more efficient Pakistani P-2 centrifuge design. In 1997, an attempt was made to acquire large amounts of maraging steel suitable for manufacturing centrifuges.
UK contributes again – by exporting high strength aluminium
In 2002 / 2003, North Korea successfully procured large quantities of high strength aluminium from Russia and the United Kingdom, another requirement in making centrifuges.
A simple tally of the amounts and types of equipment and material sought by North Korea suggests plans to develop a 5,000-centrifuge strong enrichment capacity. This appears consistent with a separate earlier enrichment offer A Q Khan had made to Libya.
For North Korea to have embarked on procuring equipment and materials meant for a (semi-)industrial scale enrichment facility, it is highly likely that the known Uranium Enrichment Workshop (UEW) at Yongbyon, which in reality approximates a full sized facility, is not the only one that exists. More workshops would have been needed to serve as test beds for pilot cascades of P-1 and P-2 centrifuges prior to (semi-)industrial scale enrichment operations.
While we have signs of North Korea’s enrichment goals, the final picture remains unclear given that the actual amount of items procured remains unknown. This problem is compounded by the fact that the North Koreans have and are continuing to source nuclear material and equipment from several parties. Moreover, there remains a high degree of uncertainty concerning the level of North Korea’s enrichment technology development.
In April 2009, after expelling IAEA inspectors, North Korea publicly announced for the first time that it was proceeding with its own enrichment program. To reinforce its intentions, North Korea followed up with a letter to the UN Security Council on September 3 to confirm that it was embarking on an enrichment phase.
In November 2010, the North Koreans unveiled to Siegfried Hecker, a pre-eminent nuclear expert and former director of the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory, an enrichment facility in Yongbyon with 2000 centrifuge machines similar to the P-2 version, built with maraging steel rotors. (S. Hecker, ‘Redefining Denuclearization in North Korea’, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, December 20, 2010.)
Implications and consequences
On March 22, 2011, North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, portrayed Libya’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons as a mistake that opened the country to NATO intervention following its domestic Arab Spring uprising.
Such conclusions drawn by North Korea make an already difficult case to engage North Korea to give up its nuclear weapon deterrence that much harder. At the same time, the alternative of disengagement will in all likelihood bring about greater problems.
In engaging North Korea, several key hurdles have to be tackled. First, North Korea shows a poor proliferation record. It was the suspected supply source of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to Libya via the A Q  Khan network – the uranium gas used in centrifuges to separate out the fissionable 235U needed in nuclear bombs from non-fissionable 238U.
There is also mounting evidence that North Korea was involved in the construction of a secret nuclear reactor at Dair Alzour in Syria that was subsequently destroyed in 2007. It is plausible that North Korean personnel assisted Syria in building the reactor. (‘North Korea’s Nuclear Enrichment: Capabilities and Consequences‘, 38; 22 June 2011).
Lessons of history
This sorry tale has several important lessons for us today. First – and this must never be forgotten – the UK’s early ‘atoms for peace’ nuclear power programme was specifically designed and intended to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. And it was not just nuclear waste from Calder Hall that went for plutonium extraction at Windscale, but from other sites that were meant to be purely civilian such as Hinkley Point.
The UK is therefore guilty of ‘breaking the rules’ that are meant to separate civil and military nuclear activities, and its complaints of other states doing the same all carry the unmistakeable whiff of ripest humbug.
Second, for all its public position of seeking to restrain nuclear proliferation, the UK is actually one of the world’s most egregious nuclear proliferators: providing arch-nuclear enemy North Korea with both the Magnox technology it has used to produce plutonium for atom bombs; and the high strength aluminium it has used for its uranium centrifuges.
So when Theresa May stands up in Parliament and proclaims that we need the Trident nuclear missile system to see off the North Korean nuclear threat, remember: it is a threat that the UK created in the first place, providing both the nuclear reactor technology and the centrifuge materials to make it happen.
And when the UK cites the nuclear threat from North Korea as a reason to spend an estimated £200 billion on the next generation of Trident, we can be sure that North Korea and other countries aspiring to their own nuclear weapons are applying precisely the same logic to the British nuclear threat.
And that considering the UK’s history of aggressive regime-changing interventions in Iraq and Libya, the hundreds of (up to 225) nuclear warheads in its possession, and its ability to target them accurately anywhere in the world, North Korea’s fears are probably a great deal better founded than Mrs May’s.
Dr David Lowry is senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

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