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)
William Ide

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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid