North’s uranium to be dealt with at UN

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North’s uranium to be dealt with at UN

The international community’s sluggish response to the revelation of a new uranium enrichment facility in North Korea is expected to quicken later this month during a sanctions committee meeting at the United Nations Security Council.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold the meeting on Feb. 23, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday.

“The North Korea sanctions committee is usually held every three months to review its activities over the [same three-month period],” said the official.

Another diplomatic source said North Korea’s nuclear programs will likely be discussed at the meeting.

“There is a high chance that the uranium enrichment issue will be on the agenda in that it is viewed as breaching UN resolutions 1718 and 1874,” the source said.

In November, an American nuclear scientist visiting the North, Siegfried Hecker, was shown a previously unknown uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, the site of the country’s plutonium-based nuclear facility.

The meeting at the UN will follow a recent remark by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell that Washington is working with its allies to seek an appropriate venue to discuss the North’s uranium program.

An internal-panel report recently delivered to the committee said the uranium enrichment facility was probably genuine.

Analysts said the report will likely be adopted at the upcoming meeting, after which the UN Security Council will have a stronger hand to deal with the issue.

The U.S. regards the program as a serious provocation and hopes to put it under Security Council sanctions. But China, a permanent member of the Security Council, is opposed to that and wants the new facility to be dealt with in the six-party talks.

A uranium enrichment program could give the North an alternate fuel for nuclear weapons beyond its stock of plutonium, although the North says the facility is meant for electricity generation.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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