News / Asia

Multiple Uranium Enrichment Facilities Suspected in N. Korea

This satellite image provided by Space Imaging Asia shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea (2002 file photo)This satellite image provided by Space Imaging Asia shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea (2002 file photo)
x
This satellite image provided by Space Imaging Asia shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea (2002 file photo)
This satellite image provided by Space Imaging Asia shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea (2002 file photo)
Analysts are expressing little surprise about the revelation North Korea apparently has multiple facilities to enrich uranium that could be used to make nuclear weapons.
 
South Korea's defense ministry Friday revealed that intelligence satellites have detected additional facilities in North Korea where it suspects work is being done to produce weapons-grade uranium.
 
A South Korean senior official told reporters North Korea's uranium enrichment activities appear to be proceeding.
 
The senior official -- who the ministry asked not be more specifically identified -- explained uranium enrichment "facilities and activities have been identified based on joint analysis by South Korea and the United States" of various satellite imagery intelligence.
 
The defense ministry says the images would not be publicly released.
 
A vague reference to North Korea's uranium enrichment program is also contained in the "North Korean strategic weapons" section of South Korea's annual defense white paper (released Friday).
 
North Korea in 2010 allowed a team of U.S. scientists to tour one such uranium facility at Yongbyon. Other similar operations have been suspected. But no government, until now, has made a public statement acknowledging evidence of their existence.
 
Georgetown University visiting professor Balbina Hwang served as a U.S. State Department senior adviser to then-ambassador Chris Hill who headed Washington's delegation to the now stalled six-nation talks on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.
 
She does not see the revelation as a game changer.
 
"Countries have been operating under this assumption. And it was probably more than an assumption, in other words, that they had some sort of evidence," she said. "And it does nothing to change the U.S. attitude or probably the new government of South Korea's attitude towards North Korea."
 
South Korean voters on Wednesday elected Park Geun-hye to succeed another member of the  conservative Saenuri (New Frontier) Party, President Lee Myung-bak.
 
Uranium enrichment gives North Korea an alternative to its plutonium-based program to make nuclear bombs. The North is already believed to have 40 kilograms of plutonium - enough for several weapons.
 
In 2009, North Korea expelled personnel of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, from the Yongbyon facility.
 
That occurred five months after the last round of international talks were held about moving North Korea towards abandoning its nuclear programs. The six-way discussions had involved both Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
 
North Korea, on December 12, launched a three-stage rocket which deployed, for the first time, an object into orbit.
 
Pyongyang hailed the event as a mission to put a peaceful earth observation satellite into space.
 
But the international community condemned the launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions prohibiting North Korea from working on ballistic missile technology.
 
The U.N. Security Council is expected soon to impose additional sanctions on North Korea for conducting the provocative launch.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs