Adm. Mike Mullen 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
WASHINGTON — The US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday said a report that North Korea is stepping up its nuclear program is more evidence of the country's belligerent behavior.
An American nuclear scientist who recently visited North Korea said he was taken to a small industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility and told that low-enriched uranium was being produced for a new reactor.
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Adm. Mike Mullen, the top US military officer, said such activities
would violate UN Security Council resolutions and agreements by North
Korea over its nuclear program.
"From my perspective, it's North Korea continuing on a path which is
destabilizing for the region. It confirms or validates the concern we've
had for years about their enriching uranium, which they've denied
routinely," he said. "They are a country that routinely we are unable to
believe that they would do what they say."
Noting the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, which
killed 46 sailors and has been blamed on North Korea, Mullen said on
CNN's "State of the Union" that "all of this is consistent with
belligerent behavior, the kind of instability-creation in a part of the
world that is very dangerous."
Earlier on Saturday, the American nuclear scientist raised fears that
the North is ramping up its nuclear program despite international
The scientist, Siegfried Hecker, said that he was taken to the North's
main Yongbyon atomic complex, a facility with a small industrial-scale
uranium enrichment facility. The facility had 2,000 recently completed
centrifuges, he said.
Hecker wrote that his first glimpse of the centrifuges was "stunning."
"Instead of seeing a few small cascades of centrifuges, which I believed
to exist in North Korea, we saw a modern, clean centrifuge plant of
more than a thousand centrifuges all neatly aligned and plumbed below
us," Hecker wrote.
He described the control room as "astonishingly modern," writing that,
unlike other North Korean facilities, it "would fit into any modern
American processing facility."
The facilities appeared to be primarily for civilian nuclear power, not
for North Korea's nuclear arsenal, said Hecker, former director of the
US Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory and a regular visitor to the North. He
said he saw no evidence of plutonium production. But, he said, the
facilities "could be readily converted to produce highly enriched
uranium bomb fuel."
Uranium enrichment would give the North a second way to make atomic
bombs, in addition to its known plutonium-based program. Hecker's
findings were first reported in The New York Times
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