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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More