August 01, 2018 13:24
A U.S. expert believes he has pinpointed North Korea's main secret uranium-enrichment facility in a different part of the country than previously reported.
David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security told Voice of America on Monday that the facility is not in the North's main Yongbyon nuclear facility but in a secret location a long way from Pyongyang.
Albright added that he believes Kangsong is the only secret facility the North is operating. He came to the assessment based on analysis of accounts of North Korean defectors who were in charge of assembling the uranium-enrichment centrifuges.
He was contradicting recent information from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies that identified a uranium-enrichment facility called Kangson in Nampo, near Pyongyang, which he said "is too small" and has too much truck traffic. He said there are several places in North Korea called Kangsong, a similar name.
Albright said the U.S. government has known about the secret facility for some time, but it wanted to focus on Yongbyon in trying to persuade North Korea to denuclearize.
"We agreed at that time it would have severely complicated the negotiations because the Obama administration had decided that they only wanted to freeze activities at Yongbyon, and they would deal with sites outside Yongbyon later," he told VOA.
"So if we published information about a secret site, that would become a part of negotiations and disrupt things. So we agreed not to release it."
Albright also said the U.S. believes North Korea has about 12,000 centrifuges, but others more plausibly believe it has less than 6,000.
A government official here was unhappy with the report and insisted the Kangson facility near Pyongyang has been correctly identified.
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