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Entries in Siegfried Hecker (1)

Sunday
Nov212010

North Korea Shows Off New Nuclear Capability

Stanford University professor Siegfried S. Hecker. Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- North Korea reportedly has built a new plant to enrich uranium and showed it off to a visiting American scientist.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Stanford University professor Siegfried S. Hecker was recently shown the facility and quotes him saying he was "stunned" by the sophistication of the plant, where he saw "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment.

The plant was not in existence back in April 2009, the last time international inspectors were allowed to view North Korea's nuclear operations.  The country remains under international sanction for earlier nuclear violations and the Obama administration is likely to use this new information to show that North Korea continues to violate those sanctions.

This comes at a time when North Korea is preparing for a transition in leadership from Kim Jong-il to his son, Kim Jong-un.  It may be part of a campaign to demonstrate that the younger man will be a strong leader.  Experts also tell the Times it is characteristic of North Korea to see whether there might be some kind of "payoff" for the country, in exchange for backing down on its nuclear efforts.

Administration officials were quoted Sunday saying they have no intention of reopening talks with North Korea unless it "demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and constructive action" on the issue.

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