May 20, 2009 12:39
America's top military officer has for the first time mentioned the possibility of a second nuclear test by North Korea. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there are reports indicating that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is considering a new nuclear test, but Mullen declined to confirm or deny them.
He also voiced concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons and said the communist country was isolating itself further from the international community as a result of its weapons program.
It is unclear whether Mullen's comments meant to imply that Washington was formally acknowledging North Korea as a nuclear state, a semantic question that appears to concern U.S. officials less than their South Korean counterparts. Officially, the U.S. government refuses to recognize the communist country as a nuclear power, and North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006 is considered by experts to have been only marginally successful.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also voiced serious concerns over North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, warning they could fall into the hands of international terrorist groups. In an interview with CBS, Gates said that such weapons could potentially be obtained through Pakistan as well as North Korea.
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