Envoy: N. Korean nuclear claim not a surprise


Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea

The U.S. special envoy for North Korea said today that Pyongyang’s claim of a secret new uranium- enrichment facility is provocative and disappointing but not a crisis or a surprise.

Stephen Bosworth’s comments, after a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, came as the United States and the North’s neighbors scrambled to come to terms with Pyongyang’s revelation to a visiting American nuclear scientist of what has been described as 2,000 recently completed centrifuges.

“This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves” by North Korea, Bosworth said. “That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the [North’s] aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time.”

The American scientist, Siegfried Hecker, said in a report that he was taken during a recent trip to the North’s main Yongbyon atomic complex to a small, highly sophisticated, industrial-scale uranium- enrichment facility.

Hecker is a former director of the U.S. Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory who is regularly given rare glimpses of the North’s secretive nuclear program.

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