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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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