U.S. Troubled by Info about N.Korea's Uranium Program

The U.S. in recent weeks has obtained new intelligence -- fresh traces of highly enriched uranium (HEU) discovered among 18,000 pages of North Korean documents -- that are raising new questions about whether Pyongyang pursued an alternative route to producing a nuclear weapon, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Quoting a source, the daily said, "The uranium enrichment data are preliminary, though at least one source familiar with the intelligence said experts had concluded it did not come from Pakistan."

The U.S. previously believed that North Korea had received HEU technology from Pakistan, but found, based on its analysis of the North Korean documents, that North Korea tried to develop the technology on its own.

In this regard, in her speech she delivered at the Heritage Foundation last Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "As we¡¯ve gotten deeper into the process, we¡¯ve been troubled by additional information about North Korea¡¯s uranium enrichment capability... And this information has reaffirmed skepticism about dealing with North Korea."

Such skepticism was raised before North Korea makes its nuclear declaration. It will likely remain a bone of contention in connection with the North's future HEU development.

Meanwhile, in the daily briefing last Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "We have indications that it (North Korea's nuclear declaration) will be soon... I¡¯ll give you one other hint here, is we do not yet have another head of delegation -- meeting scheduled. And presumably, that would be the venue in which the North Koreans would hand over to the Chinese a declaration."

englishnews@chosun.com / 6¿ù 23, 2008 09:19 KST