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N. Korea has potential to make more nukes: Gates

Posted November. 23, 2010 13:00,   


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that North Korea has the potential to produce more nuclear weapons by using its new uranium enrichment facilities.

Arriving in Bolivia for a North and South American defense ministers’ meeting, Gates told reporters, “My view is that the North Koreans have had an ongoing nuclear program for a long time and have -- and probably have some number of nuclear devices. An enrichment plant like this, assuming that’s what it is, obviously gives them the potential to create a number more. But I believe they have nuclear weapons.”

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based think tank dedicated to nuclear issues, said chances are high that the North secretly installed centrifuges separately from the 2,000 centrifuges shown recently to an American nuclear expert.

Institute director David Albright and senior researcher Paul Brennan announced this through attachments to their report posted on the institute’s Web site Sunday, commenting on a report by Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker, who visited the North’s nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Albright said, “When the process to dismantle nuclear facilities was completed in April last year, there was no plant for centrifuge production in Yongbyon,” adding, “The fact that North Korea built a plant that produced 2,000 centrifuges so fast suggests that this plant might not be the North’s first facility for centrifuges.”

After meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. point man on North Korea, told reporters in Seoul Monday, “(North Korea’s uranium enrichment activities) constitute a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, September 19, 2005 Joint Statement, and agreements reached during the six-way nuclear talks,” adding, “This is a very difficult problem that we have been struggling to deal with for almost 20 years.”

On the outlook for the resumption of the six-way talks, he said, “My crystal ball is foggy, but I would never declare any process dead. It`s still breathing. The six-way talks remain alive and we hope to be able to revive them.”

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