News / Asia

Diplomats Hold Talks in Asia About N. Korea's Uranium Enrichment Program

Diplomats Hold Talks in Asia About N. Korea's Uranium Enrichment Program
Diplomats Hold Talks in Asia About N. Korea's Uranium Enrichment Program

U.S. diplomats, intelligence officers and other officials have rushed to Asia for consultations following North Korea's claim to have secretly constructed a uranium enrichment facility. Among the South Korean responses under discussion: bringing American nuclear weapons back into the country.

Provocative program

After his meeting at the South Korean foreign ministry on Monday, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said "this is not a crisis."

But he added Pyongyang's new uranium enrichment program is provocative.

"This is clearly a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874. It is a violation of North Korea's commitments under the September 2005 joint statement. And it's a violation of other commitments that they have made to us and other partners in the six-party process," Bosworth said.

American scientists, who visited North Korea this month, say they were shown more than 1,000 new centrifuges for processing uranium.

Nuclear re-deployment

Among the reactions here: Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said South Korea would consider redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on its soil.

Kim made the remark in response during a parliament committee meeting. He said the issue could be raised during a meeting next month of a U.S.-South Korean military committee devoted to deterring North Korea's nuclear programs.

The U.S. withdrew nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, and a Defense Ministry spokesman says that until now, South Korea had not considered reintroducing them.

Talks under way

The U.S delegation has gone to Tokyo for discussions with Japanese officials and later will hold talks in Beijing.

The Japanese government calls North Korea's claimed uranium enrichment "absolutely unacceptable."

China has been trying to revive six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs, which began in 2003. Pyongyang agreed to shutter its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and a commitment by Washington and Tokyo to discuss establishing diplomatic relations. But the North pulled out of the talks two years ago after the United Nations condemned its launch of a satellite.

Discovery during visit

Three experts from Stanford University, in the U.S. state of California, visited North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear site on November 12.

Former U.S. intelligence analyst Robert Carlin says he and his colleagues were shown the facility and told it is already producing low-grade enriched uranium.

"If it is, then the North Koreans are much more technologically capable, their [nuclear] industry is operating at a higher level than people imagine," he said.

Carlin said he doubts the North Koreans mastered the technology without outside help.

"It's quite possible, and maybe even likely, that they got some sort of external assistance and very likely candidates are either Iran or Pakistan," he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the technology would allow Pyongyang to increase the number of nuclear weapons beyond the few it is presumed to have.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs