North Korea’s nuclear arms programme ‘unacceptable’: Japan


TOKYO: North Korea’s claimed uranium enrichment programme “should never be tolerated” and was “absolutely unacceptable”, Japan said Monday as Pyongyang’s nuclear scheme sparked anger in the region.
“Nuclear weapons development by North Korea should never be tolerated,” prime minister Naoto Kan told reporters.
“Japan will maintain the position and cooperate firmly with the United States and other nations.”
His comments followed disclosures by a US scientist that he had toured a modern uranium enrichment plant in the communist state, raising the prospect that Pyongyang is preparing to build a more powerful atomic bomb. Japan’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, told reporters: “North Korea’s nuclear development is absolutely unacceptable from the point of view of Japan’s security and the region’s peace and stability.”
US scientist Siegfried Hecker revealed at the weekend that he had visited a new equipped with at least 1,000 centrifuges on November 12 at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
Hecker, a Stanford University professor, called the facility “stunning”, adding he was told it was already producing low-grade uranium, although there was no way to confirm if the plant was fully operational.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara later said that “if the explanation given by North Korea is true, it is a grave situation.
It is feared it would violate the series of UN resolutions,” he said according to Jiji Press. Maehara was speaking at a meeting with the US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, who was on a regional tour.
Bosworth, on an earlier stop in South Korea, said Pyongyang’s claims were provocative and disappointing but “not a crisis”.
The US envoy was next headed for China as he visited nations that are members of the moribund six-party talks aimed at abolishing North Korea’s nuclear programme.