WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Sunday a report that North Korea is stepping up its nuclear program is more evidence of the country's belligerent behavior.
An American nuclear scientist who recently visited North Korea says he was taken to a small industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility and told that low-enriched uranium was being produced for a new reactor.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer, said such activities would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and agreements by North Korea over its nuclear program.
"From my perspective, it's North Korea continuing on a path which is destabilizing for the region. It confirms or validates the concern we've had for years about their enriching uranium, which they've denied routinely," he said. "They are a country that routinely we are unable to believe that they would do what they say."
Noting the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, which killed 46 sailors and has been blamed on North Korea, Mullen said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "all of this is consistent with belligerent behavior, the kind of instability-creation in a part of the world that is very dangerous."
Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the "troubling report" makes it important to restart international talks about the North Korean program and re-examine the effectiveness of efforts to putting in place penalties against the North.
Kerry pointed to China as a key, saying Beijing is an influential ally and trading partner of North Korea and is "well-positioned to enhance the international community's enforcement activities."
"Only a comprehensive approach that can achieve security, peace, and development offers any hope of verifiably eliminating North Korea's nuclear weapons," he said in a statement. "The longer it takes to launch that effort, the longer the United States and its allies will be forced to cope with the destabilizing consequences of the DPRK's (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) reckless and irresponsible pursuit and export of highly sensitive technologies."