N. Korea Unveils New Nuke Plant
Move could signal more aggressive program or be negotiating tactic
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2010 6:50 AM CST
This photo combo shows above, the Yongbyon nuclear complex in an image taken Wednesday Sept. 29, 2010, which shows heavy construction and the construction of two small buildings.   (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)
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(Newser) – North Korea has unveiled a dazzling new uranium-enrichment plant to a visiting US scientist, reports the New York Times, and scientists confirm the country is building a light-water reactor elsewhere. Siegfried Hecker, former chief of Los Alamos, said he saw "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges operated by an "ultra-modern control room." The North claims it has 2000 centrifuges and is already producing low-enriched uranium—a claim the Times says could be a negotiating tactic as Kim Jong-Il hands over the reins, or signal an aggressive shift in its nuclear aspirations.

The US dispatched diplomats to nations taking part in the six-party talks in response, notes the Washington Post. Pyongyang's revelation creates a dicey diplomatic situation for President Obama as he seeks to limit nuclear stockpiles globally. But the US will prod China, the North's closest ally, to pressure Kim's government and ratchet up sanctions—especially as the sophistication of the nuke plant suggests foreign assistance played a role.