09/04/2009, 00.00
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North Korea: we have enriched uranium, we can create the bomb or negotiate

Pyongyang claims to be close to creating an atomic bomb but says it is ready to negotiate and not contrary to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Experts say the North Korean regime wants to resume talks to save face. The role of Beijing decisive.

Pyongyang (AsiaNews / Agencies) - North Korea says it is close to the final stage in creating enriched uranium and is ready to either resume dialogue on disarmament or make an atomic bomb.

In North Korean official circles, in a letter to the UN, threaten to bring carry through their nuclear program "if any permanent member of UN Security Council sanctions enforces sanctions before dialogue." They repeat that the country "will never be held back" by UN sanctions and say that Pyongyang is not opposed "to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the entire world," but believes that the 6 party dialogue has been used “to outrageously violate the sovereignty of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea” (North Korea).

In August, Pyongyang made gestures of rapprochement, releasing two U.S. journalists and several citizens of South Korea, and it also sent a delegation to the South. Many experts see this statement as an attempt to seek a position of greater strength, as a preliminary step towards dialogue. They believe that Kim Jong-Il’s regime is seeking a goodwill gesture from the UN, which will allow him to resume the dialogue and save face.

Won Tae Jae, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman, noted that it is difficult to ascertain whether it is true that Pyongyang is close to the creation of the bomb.

Experts believe, however, that creating enriched uranium is far simpler than the former program based on plutonium: the Yongbyon reactor, used to process plutonium, is under constant observation by U.S. satellites.

In 2009, North Korea launched over 10 missiles and carried out a second nuclear weapons test, ignoring international pressure. In June, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions, by unanimous vote also Russia and China, which provide blocking loans to the country and control of all cargo ships that could transport materials related to the nuclear program. The previous April Pyongyang declared it would never come back to the six party negotiating table, with China, Russia, United States, Japan and South Korea and also proposed direct talks with Washington. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded that the 6-party talks is "the appropriate way to deal with North Korea."

The United States President Barack Obama insists on proposing the resumption of 6 party dialogue and Philip J. Crowley, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, stressed that now everything depends "on what North Korea decides to do."

Hirofumi Nakasone, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, reiterated Monday that "Japan and the international community can never tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear weapons."

Several analysts consider crucial the position of China, Pyongyang’s main ally, which could help reduce tension in the area acting as a negotiator to the achieve decisive disarmament envisaged by the international community.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy, is in China to discuss how to resume the talks. Then he will fly to South Korea and Japan.


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