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China Admits “North Korea Made an Attempt to Enrich Uranium”

China Admits “North Korea Made an Attempt to Enrich Uranium”

Posted October. 04, 2004 21:47,   


The Japanese news outlet Kyodo News reported on October 4 that for the first time, China acknowledged the suspicion over North Korea’s uranium enrichment program.

Kyodo News cited its source from Washington D.C. and reported that China, the chair country of the six-party talks, recently admitted to the participating countries that “there was at least an attempt (by North Korea) for (uranium) enrichment.”

This is the first time that China acknowledged North Korea’s attempt to enrich uranium. China has taken sides with North Korea so far, requesting the U.S. to provide evidence on its suspicion over North Korea’s uranium enrichment program.

With China, a highly influential country to North Korea, expressing a change of heart, Kyodo News predicted that the biggest issue of the next six-party talks will lie in the response of North Korea on the suspicion over its uranium enrichment program.

According to the Japanese news agency, “The nuclear black market, led by Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who provided nuclear technology to North Korea, supplied UF6, which is the raw material of enriched uranium.”

An official closely related to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) insisted, “Dr. Khan provided a centrifuge sample to the North. There is enough evidence to prove that North Korea pursued a uranium enriched program.”

It is not clear why China suddenly changed its stance. According to Kyodo News, however, specific information provided by its ally Pakistan on the issues, such as relations between Dr. Khan and North Korea or the provision of UF6 and a sample centrifuge are the most likely reasons behind such a change.

North Korea’s nuclear issue was resurfaced when the U.S. sent a high-level official to North Korea in October 2002, aiming to press hard on the North after it found out the same year that North Korea was trying to expand its uranium enrichment program from laboratory-level to large-scale development.

Yoo-Seong Hwang yshwang@donga.com