June 21, 2008

Rice: New North Korean Nuke Evidence

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has become increasingly concerned North Korea might be seeking a new route to produce nuclear weapons, sources say.

Just as North Korea was expected to finally submit a formal declaration on its known plutonium-based nuclear activities, new evidence has emerged the communist Asian nation might also be pursuing a secret uranium-based weapons track, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The Post's unnamed sources say traces of highly enriched uranium have been found on paper documents given to U.S. officials as part of the negotiations over North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which Rice reportedly has described as troubling new information. It adds to other circumstantial evidence of a secret uranium program, something Pyongyang has steadfastly denied.

They have been either seeking or have gotten or have done something on the highly enriched uranium side, the State Department quotes Rice as saying in an upcoming article in The Wall Street Journal. I will tell you that the more we dig into it and the more we actually talk to them about it, the more concerning it is.

Under its deal with the United States, North Korea is expected to declare it produced 81 pounds of plutonium fuel at Yongbyon.