North Korea says uranium enrichment 'in last phase'
North Korea said it was closer to a second way of making uranium after a month of conciliatory gestures.
North Korea said on Friday it was closer to a second way of making uranium after a month of conciliatory gestures.
"Experimental uranium enrichment has successfully been conducted to enter into completion phase," the North's KCNA news agency quoted its United Nations delegation as saying in a letter to the head of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC).
The North said its latest steps were in response to tighter sanctions.
At the United Nations, the mission of the United States, which currently holds the Security Council presidency, said it had received the North Korean letter and circulated it to the other 14 members of the council.
U.N. sanctions have hurt the impoverished North's arms trade, one of its few significant exports.
The United States has refused to ease up on the sanctions, and sent its point man for their enforcement to Asia last month to build support.
"Now they (North Korea) are taking the road that they know will drive a response out of all countries -- the military way -- and leaving them to decide what to do," said Cho Myung-chul, an expert on the North at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
North Korea added that reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods was at its final phase and extracted plutonium was being weaponised.
"We are prepared for both dialogue and sanctions. If some permanent members of the UNSC wish to put sanctions first before dialogue, we would respond with bolstering our nuclear deterrence first before we meet them in a dialogue."
Pyongyang laid the blame squarely on the U.N. Security Council for imposing sanctions over its rocket launch in April and ignoring one by South Korea late last month.
"Had the UNSC, from the very beginning, not made an issue of the DPRK's (North Korea's) peaceful satellite launch in the same way as it kept silent over the satellite launch conducted by South Korea on August 25, 2009, it would not have compelled the DPRK to take strong counteraction such as its 2nd nuclear test.
Pyongyang said its launch was to put a communications satellite into space. Others said it was to test a ballistic missile with the potential to hit U.S. territory.
The North has already tested two plutonium-based nuclear devices, the one in May triggering tightened international sanctions.
It reiterated on Friday its opposition to six-country talks over its nuclear weapons programme, talks it walked away from last December. The talks among the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States offered Pyongyang massive aid and an end to isolation if it gives up efforts to build an atomic arsenal.
Last Mod: 04 Eylül 2009, 17:36