News / USA

US Official: North Korea Continues to Destabilize Region

A visitor stands by a television program showing unused nuclear fuel rods on the shelves of a warehouse at North Korea's main nuclear plant in Yongbyon, North Korea (File Photo)
A visitor stands by a television program showing unused nuclear fuel rods on the shelves of a warehouse at North Korea's main nuclear plant in Yongbyon, North Korea (File Photo)

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says the release of a new report that North Korea has made strides in its nuclear program validates concerns about Pyongyang's efforts to destabilize the region.  

Siegfried Hecker, an American nuclear expert who recently visited North Korea, says that he was shown a new facility with more than 1,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.  Hecker says he was stunned by its sophistication and that it had been built with remarkable speed.

Hecker says North Korean officials told him that the facility was producing low-grade uranium for a new reactor.

Speaking Sunday on ABC television's "This Week" program, the U.S. top military officer, Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, warned that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons is a major concern for Asia and the world. "This validates a long standing concern that we've had with respect to North Korea and its enrichment of uranium.  It also continues to validate [concerns about] a country that is led by a dictator who constantly desires to destabilize the region.  And he's done that again with the development of this capability as well," he said.

Mullen said news of the new facility shows that Kim Jong Il continues to be "predictable in his unpredictability."  The admiral suggested that constructing the nuclear complex might be an effort by North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il to install his son, Kim Jong Un, as the country's next leader. "Not too long ago, he [i.e., Kim Jong Il] killed 46 South Korean sailors.  He has over time continued to destabilize this region.  And, in fact, I also believe that this has to do with the succession plan for his son," he said.

Earlier this year, an international team of investigators led by South Korea concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean warship - the Cheonan.  Pyongyang has denied involvement in the destruction of the patrol boat and the deaths of 46 South Korean sailors.

News about the new nuclear site comes as a private Washington-based security firm, the Institute for Science and International Security, released satellite pictures last week that it says show new construction underway at North Korea's disabled Yongbyon nuclear facility.

Jack Pritchard, a former U.S diplomat who recently visited the site, says North Korean officials told him that they are building an experimental light water nuclear reactor at Yongbyon.

Light water reactors typically are used for generating electricity.  But analysts note that the plant could also be used to enrich uranium - for use as fuel for a nuclear reactor or to make atomic weapons.

Last year, North Korea broke off the six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen says participants in the talks - South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States - need to convince Kim Jong Il to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. "We have to continue to bring pressure on him specifically.  Those in the region in particular, the six-party talk countries - we all we have to continue to do that," he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, arrived in South Korea on Sunday in an effort to restart the stalled nuclear talks. "I'm on a very quick trip through the region consulting with our partners on next steps in the process of negotiating with the North Koreans," he said.

After Seoul, Bosworth is scheduled to visit Tokyo and Beijing before returning to Washington this week.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs