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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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US Official: North Korea Continues to Destabilize Region

Olcay Rached 21 November 2010

The top U.S. military officer says reports that North Korea is expanding its nuclear activities indicate the reclusive nation is continuing on a path to destabilize the region.

Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comment Sunday on U.S. television, CNN's State of the Union.

A private U.S. security firm, The Institute for Science and International Security, last week released satellite pictures it says show construction under way at the disabled Yongbyon nuclear site.

An American nuclear expert who recently visited North Korea says he was shown a large new facility for enriching uranium, with hundreds of centrifuges. Siegfried Hecker said he was stunned by the sophistication of the facility.

The Obama administration's special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, is in Asia to consult with counterparts from South Korea, Japan and China.

Bosworth is visiting Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing before returning to Washington on November 24.

A former U.S, diplomat who visited the Yongbyon site recently, Jack Pritchard, says North Korean officials told him they are building an experimental light water nuclear reactor.

Analysts say light water reactors are typically used only for generating electricity, but that construction of the plant could give North Korea a reason to enrich uranium, which can be used to fuel a reactor or make nuclear weapons

Six-party talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear program broke off last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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