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制裁无用?朝鲜或已具备生产先进火箭燃料能力

更新时间:2017-9-29 12:37:31 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Remote Textile Plant May Secretly Fuel North Korea’s Weapons
制裁无用?朝鲜或已具备生产先进火箭燃料能力

In the remote North Korean city of Hamhung, separated from the capital by vast, jagged mountains, an inconspicuous chemical plant may be secretly fueling the growing missile array that threatens the United States.

在偏僻的朝鲜城市咸兴——庞大、崎岖的山脉将它与首都分开——一个不起眼的化工厂可能正在秘密地为威胁美国的系列导弹提供燃料。

Researchers think that the plant is producing a specialized rocket fuel known as UDMH, which is used in the long-range missile launches that have escalated tensions between North Korea and the United States.

研究人员认为,该工厂正在生产一种名为UDMH的特殊火箭燃料,在加剧了美朝紧张局势的远程导弹试射中使用的就是这种燃料。

This would settle an esoteric but crucial debate among North Korea watchers, and not to Washington’s favor.

它将解决朝鲜观察者之间一个深奥而又关键的争论,其结论不利于华盛顿。

Some have argued that North Korea cannot produce the fuel, implying that the country imported it from Russia or China. Those countries could then be pressured to cut off exports, grounding North Korea’s missiles without firing a shot.

有些观察者认为,朝鲜无法生产该燃料,只能从俄罗斯或中国进口。可以对那些国家施压,迫使它们减少出口,这样不费一枪一弹就能将朝鲜的导弹困在地面上。

But the new finding, produced by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury University, suggests that North Korea has mastered UDMH production, closing off one of the last avenues for outside curbs on the country’s increasingly sophisticated weapons programs.

但是,米德尔伯里大学(Middlebury University)詹姆斯·马丁防扩散研究中心(James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)的这项新发现表明,朝鲜已经具备生产UDMH的能力,关闭了外界遏制该国不断增进的武器计划的最后一条途径。

Though North Korea may have previously relied on foreign assistance in obtaining or making the fuel, as some analysts believe, it no longer appears to need the help.

虽然有些分析人士认为,朝鲜之前可能依赖外部援助获取或制造该燃料,但它似乎不再需要那些援助。

Vipin Narang, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies nuclear issues, called the discovery “very important.”

麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)研究核武器问题的教授维平·纳兰(Vipin Narang)称该发现“非常重要”。

“If they are not dependent on foreign suppliers,” he said, then “even the most targeted sanctions on, and monitoring of,” countries that might assist North Korea “will be mostly futile.”

他认为,“如果他们不再依赖外国供应”,那么即使是对可能协助朝鲜的国家进行“最有针对性的制裁或监视,也基本上毫无用处”。

Short of war or the country’s collapse, he added, “there’s nothing to stop this program from becoming a monster.”

他还表示,如果没有发生战争,或者该国没有崩溃,那就“没什么能阻止该计划变成怪物”。

The finding is based on satellite imagery, a technical analysis of UDMH production methods, information from a North Korean official who defected, and a set of obscure North Korean technical documents.

该发现依据的是卫星图像;对生产UDMH方式的技术分析;一名叛变的朝鲜官员的情报;以及一系列费解的朝鲜技术文件。

Jeffrey Lewis, who directs the Middlebury center’s East Asia program, had been hunting for weeks for hints of UDMH production.

詹姆斯·马丁防扩散研究中心东亚项目主任杰弗里·刘易斯(Jeffrey Lewis)数周来一直在寻找UDMH生产的痕迹。

“There are no real, obvious signatures for it,” he said, because it can be made with common chemicals like chlorine and ammonia using a variation of a process developed in 1906. India, while quietly developing its missile program in the 1970s, had produced UDMH in an old sugar factory.

他说,“没有明确、明显的迹象”,因为它可以通过1906年开发的一种方式的变体,用氯和氨等常见化学原料生产。印度在20世纪70年代悄悄发展导弹计划时,就是在一家旧糖厂里生产UDMH。

The breakthrough came when his team found and translated a set of highly technical articles in an official North Korean science journal, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, that referred to the fuel.

他的团队在朝鲜官方科学杂志《化学与化学工程》(Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)上找到并翻译了一系列提及该燃料的具有很高技术含量的文章,从而取得了突破。

The articles, which ran between 2013 and 2016, discussed mundane matters like managing highly toxic wastewater, a notorious problem in UDMH production. But they betrayed suspiciously sophisticated knowledge. One explored methods for improving purity, crucial in advanced missiles.

2013年至2016年发表的那些文章,讨论的是处理剧毒废水等寻常问题——这在UDMH的生产中是个出了名的难题。但那些文章泄露了一些可能非常尖端的知识。有一篇文章研究的是提高纯度的问题,这对先进导弹至关重要。

“They don’t read like this is a speculative or nascent endeavor,” Mr. Lewis said. “They read like this is a problem they’ve been working on for a while,” describing problems a country would encounter only after producing large quantities of the fuel.

“它们读起来不像是试探性或刚启动的努力,”刘易斯说。“而像是他们已经研究了一段时间”,那些问题是一个国家在大量生产这种燃料后才会遇到的问题。

But the documents betrayed something else: conspicuous secrecy. Unlike others in the journal, these three articles listed no affiliation or biography for its authors, suggesting their work was more sensitive than it looked.

这些文件还泄露了另外一点:明显的保密性。与该杂志的其他文章不同,这三篇文章没有列出作者隶属的单位,也没有作者简介,表明他们的工作比表面上看起来的更为敏感。

Mr. Lewis’s team cross-referenced the authors’ names with every scrap of North Korean chemical research they could find, until they noticed something odd. One of the authors, Cha Seok Bong, had published three papers on more anodyne matters out of a place called the February 8 Vinalon Plant, based in remote Hamhung.

刘易斯的团队将这几位作者的名字与他们能找到的所有朝鲜化学研究报告进行交叉对照,最后他们发现了一件怪事。其中一位作者车锡奉(Cha Seok Bong,音)曾在偏远的咸兴2·8维尼龙厂发表过三篇关于一些更寻常话题的文章。

It was an odd location for a highly trained rocket fuel specialist to work. The plant normally produces vinalon, a cheap synthetic material sometimes called “juche” fiber — a reference to North Korea’s tenet of juche, or self-reliance — that is often used in North Korean textiles and uniforms.

在一名训练有素的火箭燃料专家看来,这是个奇怪的位置。该工厂通常生产一种有时被称为“自力更生”布(反映该国“自力更生”的信条)的廉价合成面料维尼龙,它是朝鲜纺织品和制服的常用面料。

But it had long been, Mr. Lewis said, “our No. 1 candidate for UDMH production.”

但刘易斯表示,长期以来,该工厂一直是“我们猜测UDMH生产地的首选”。

His team had initially flagged the plant after scrutinizing, in painstaking detail, satellite images of Hamhung for clues.

他的团队最初是在极其细致地查看咸兴的卫星图像以寻找线索时,注意到了该工厂。

The remote city is not an obvious home for sensitive military sites. Sitting on the country’s eastern coast, it is exposed to airstrikes, like the American bombing missions that devastated it in the Korean War.

这座偏远的城市不像是明显的敏感军事场所。它位于朝鲜东海岸,容易遭到空袭,比如朝鲜战争中使该国遭受致命打击的美军轰炸。

But Ko Chong-song, a North Korea official who defected in the early 1990s, indicated in a 2001 book that it was the center of secret military chemical work. The Central Intelligence Agency had suspected as much since at least 1969, when it published a secret assessment of chemical production in Hamhung.

不过,20世纪90年代初叛逃的朝鲜官员高钟松(Ko Chong-song,音)曾在2001年的一本书中指出,咸兴是秘密军事化学工作的中心。美国中央情报局(Central Intelligence Agency)至少从1969年起也有了类似的怀疑,当时它发布了一份关于咸兴化学品生产的秘密评估报告。

Now, Mr. Lewis’s team, looking again at the plant, noticed two unusually large wastewater pools, which aligned with standard UDMH production methods — and with the paper describing wastewater challenges. And Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, they found, had made a series of trips to the plant, underscoring its importance.

现在,刘易斯的团队在再次审视该工厂时发现了两个超大型废水池,这符合UDMH生产的标准方法,也符合那篇文章中描述的废水难题。他们发现,朝鲜领导人金正恩(Kim Jong-un)曾多次视察该厂,表明了它的重要性。

“That’s about as clear-cut as it gets,” Mr. Lewis said.

“这已经非常明确了,”刘易斯说。

While the finding reveals important information about the extent of North Korea’s progress, it may come too late for the United States to act.

虽然这个发现透露了有关朝鲜发展水平的重要信息,但现在美国采取行动可能太晚了。

The country has most likely already stockpiled enough fuel to fight an extended war, Mr. Lewis said. And the fuel is designed to remain potent for years. Soviet UDMH lasted so long that, after the country collapsed, the United States had to help de-fuel its ICBMs.

刘易斯表示,朝鲜很可能已经储备了足够进行一场大规模战争的燃料。而且这种燃料设计有效年限是很长的。苏联UDMH的有效期长到苏联崩溃后,美国还不得不帮它清除远程洲际导弹(ICBM)的燃料。

Asked how North Korea could have so extensively developed this fuel without apparent outside notice, Mr. Lewis said outside analysts too often saw the country as primitive and backward.

当被问及为什么朝鲜能如此广泛地开发这种燃料而未被外界明显察觉时,刘易斯表示,外界分析人士也常常认为该国原始、落后。

“If you watch them in satellite photos and read their technical publications, it looks like a totally different country,” he said.

“如果你从卫星照片中观察他们,读他们的技术出版物,你就会发现它像是一个完全不同的国家,”他说。

He added, sighing, “We’re in full-scale denial about North Korea’s capabilities.”

他又叹息道,“我们对朝鲜的实力处在一种自欺欺人的状态。”

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