NK says enriched uranium production efforts ’progressing apace’
North Korea said Wednesday its enriched uranium production efforts are "progressing apace," rejecting demands from South Korea and the United States that the communist regime immediately halt uranium enrichment if the stalled international nuclear talks are to reopen.
Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry said that it is speeding up the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor and enriched uranium production as fuel for the reactor, claiming that the moves are to generate electricity and the country has the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The announcement is expected to raise tensions and cast clouds over efforts to resume the long-stalled six-party talks, as Seoul and Washington have demanded Pyongyang put an immediate halt to its uranium enrichment activity if it wants to restart the nuclear talks.
"The construction of experimental LWR (light-water reactor) and the low enriched uranium for the provision of raw materials are progressing apace in reliance on solid foundation of the self-supporting national economy and the country's latest science and technologies making leaping progress," the North's ministry said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
"The DPRK announced at home and abroad the every phase of its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes geared to the production of electricity," it said, using the acronym for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea revealed last year that it was running a uranium enrichment facility, adding to international concerns about its nuclear capabilities. Uranium, if highly enriched, can be used to make weapons, prodiving Pyongyang with a second way of building atomic bombs after its existing plutonium-based program.
The North's ministry also said, "the U.S. and its allies groundlessly took issue with the DPRK's just nuclear activities for peaceful purposes, deliberately laying a stumbling block in the way of settling the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations."
"The prospect for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can open only when all the countries concerned honor their commitments in the joint statement on the principle of simultaneous actions," the ministry said. "The DPRK is ready to resume the six-party talks without preconditions and implement the joint statement in a phased manner on the principle of simultaneous actions." (Yonhap)