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New York Times, "North Korea Sold Processed Uranium to Libya"

New York Times, "North Korea Sold Processed Uranium to Libya"

Posted February. 02, 2005 22:55,   


The New York Times Online reported January 2 that after conducting scientific tests, American intelligence agencies and scientists concluded with “near certainty” that North Korea had sold processed uranium to Libya.

It seems that “processed uranium” does not refer to highly enriched uranium (HEU), but it seems to include uranium hexafluoride, known as UF6, which could be enriched into a weapon.

The Times reported evidence that North Korea had provided two tons of uranium hexafluoride to Libya nine months ago, and that after dismantling its nuclear program, Libya has handed over the relevant material to the U.S. last year.

Following that, intelligence officials said that the relevant material was tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. “The material came from North Korea with a certainty of 90 percent or better," officials said.

On this matter, the New York Times reported a former Pentagon official as saying, “It (the new findings) suggests we don’t have time to sit around and wait for the outcome of negotiations."

Korean Foreign Affairs and National Security experts expressed concern since North Korea has definitely crossed the ‘red line’ (exporting nuclear materials to third-party countries) that U.S. imposed on North Korea if the finding turns out to be true.

However, the New York Times added that the U.S. has no sample of known North Korean uranium for comparison with the Libya material, and since the tests were done by eliminating other possible sources of uranium, there are possibilities that the findings may not be true.

Concerning that such news was reported at a time of U.S. National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director Michael Green for Asian Affairs’ visit to Korea, some Korean government officials responded, “We can’t set aside the possibility that it could be media manipulation from the hawkish faction of the Bush administration.”

Since the second term of the George W. Bush administration has decided to deal with North Korean nuclear issue through six-party talks in a peaceful manner, some speculate that it could be an act from the hawkish faction to spread the notion that the six-party talks are useless.

Jung-Ahn Kim Hyong-gwon Pu credo@donga.com bookum90@donga.com