Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • Experimental Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

Asia-pacific

US slams North Korea for 'provocative' nuclear visit

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-22

US officials have accused North Korea of flouting UN sanctions and attempting to destabilise the region after an American scientist was shown around a sophisticated new enrichment plant in an apparent show of nuclear triumph.

REUTERS - North Korea's effort to enrich uranium is typical of its defiance of the United Nations, and major powers including China must put pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, senior U.S. officials said on Sunday.

North Korean officials took a U.S. nuclear scientist, Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University, to a plant at its Yongbyon nuclear complex where he saw hundreds of centrifuges that Pyongyang said were installed and operational.
 
Washington has believed since 2002 that Pyongyang had such an enrichment program, but the apparent sophistication of its effort could ignite fresh debate over how to deal with North Korea's unpredictable leadership and whether to resume talks aimed at ending its nuclear ambitions.
 
"The notion that they could develop this is obviously a concern, but I would say fairly consistent with their longstanding willingness to ignore the U.N.," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
 
"North Korea has ignored a number of Security Council resolutions and sanctions. They continually try to export weapons in violation of those resolutions," Gates told reporters in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he was attending a conference of American defense ministers.
 
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the disclosure showed that North Korea was a "dangerous country" intent on making nuclear weapons and major powers must work together to put pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
 
"We have to continue to bring pressure on him specifically. Those in the region -- in particular the six-party talk countries, Russia, China, the United States, Japan, and South Korea -- we all have to continue to do that," Mullen told ABC television's "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" talk show.
 
Asked whether this new facility raised concerns the North was making more nuclear weapons "right now," Mullen told ABC: "This certainly gives that potential real life."
 
The North Koreans told Hecker they had 2,000 centrifuges in operation, but the U.S. team that visited the country was unable to verify that they were working. Hecker said North Korea claimed the program was aimed at generating electricity.
 
Gates dismissed the notion the enrichment program might be for energy production, saying North Korea had an ongoing nuclear arms program for some time and probably had a number of nuclear devices.
 
"I believe they have nuclear weapons, they're clearly developing longer-range missiles, including potentially a mobile ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile), so all of these programs are of great concern to every nation," he said.
 
Gates said he had "no idea" what motivated North Korea to reveal the plant at this time, and he declined to discuss U.S. options going forward, saying the incident occurred while he was out of the country and he needed to consult first with other U.S. security and diplomatic officials.
 
China’s role
 
By showing off its nuclear hand, analysts say North Korea is seeking to gain leverage in any aid-for-disarmament negotiations in stalled six-way talks with regional powers China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.
 
Its nuclear program is seen as a threat to U.S. allies Japan and South Korea, and a proliferation risk given North Korea's long history of selling missile technology abroad.
 
The top U.S. envoy on North Korea arrived in Seoul late on Sunday to discuss with key Asian nations ways to thwart Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
 
Mullen singled out China -- North Korea's closest ally -- saying Beijing would necessarily have "an awful lot to do with" future attempts to sway Pyongyang.
 
"We've been engaged with China for an extended period of time with respect to North Korea ... a great part of this, I think, will have to be done through Beijing," he told ABC.
 
Mullen put the nuclear disclosure in context by pointing to the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Washington and Seoul blame on Pyongyang. The suspected torpedo attack killed 46 South Korean sailors and stoked tensions on the peninsula.
 
"All of this is consistent with belligerent behavior -- the kind of instability creation in a part of the world that is very dangerous," Mullen said.
 
The North's reported nuclear advances come nearly two months after Kim Jong-il started the transition of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Analysts say he wants to use nuclear muscle to boost his son's credentials with the military.
 
"And, in fact, I also believe that this has to do with a succession plan for his son," Mullen said.

 

 

Date created : 2010-11-22

  • KOREAN PENINSULA

    Obama chides Pyongyang, demands 'seriousness' on nuclear talks

    Read more

  • USA

    Washington slaps new sanctions on North Korea

    Read more

COMMENT(S)