Architect of North Korea nuke programme dies

2014-07-09 10:19
A North Korean military unit of missiles during a military parade in Pyongyang. (AFP)

A North Korean military unit of missiles during a military parade in Pyongyang. (AFP)

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Seoul - North Korea announced on Wednesday the death of retired General Jon Pyong-Ho, a chief architect of Pyongyang's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes and an individually named target of international sanctions.

Jon, who retired from public life in 2011, died of a heart attack on Tuesday, the official KCNA news agency reported. He was 88.

He will be given a state funeral, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un leading the funeral committee, said KCNA, which noted that Jon had "devoted all his life to the defence industry".

A close adviser of former leader Kim Jong-Il, Jon was credited with directly managing North Korea's first nuclear test in October 2006.

According to the NK Leadership Watch website, Jon supervised the development of medium-range ballistic missiles in the 1990s, and offered the designs to Pakistan in exchange for detailed information on gas centrifuge technology and uranium enrichment.

In 2008 and 2009 Jon supervised the North's second major long-range missile test and its second nuclear test.

According to US intelligence reports, he was a key figure in the North's international weapons trade that involved shipping components for long-range missiles, nuclear reactors and conventional arms to countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

Over the years, he was individually named in sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations, United States and European Union.

In its tribute, KCNA noted Jon's "special contribution" to turning North Korea into a "satellite producer and launcher and a nuclear weapons state".

The announcement of his death coincided with the North test firing two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

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