N. Korea's New Nuke Capacity: A Failure of U.S. Policy?

By Bill Powell, Time - November 22, 2010

"This is not a crisis," said Stephen Bosworth, President Obama's special envoy to North Korea, speaking to reporters in Seoul on Monday after meeting with his South Korean counterparts to discuss the latest public revelation of just how advanced Pyongyang's nuclear program is. "We are not surprised."

Set aside for the moment that Bosworth evidently had his weekend plans disrupted by the sudden trip to East Asia to consult with countries in the region about this noncrisis. In a sense, he's right. The disclosure in a Nov. 20 report by Siegfried Hecker, former director of Los Alamos National Labs in the U.S., that the North had given him and two colleagues a recent peek at a new, "ultra modern" facility replete with "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges at a site that did not exist 18 months ago is the latest in a long line of evidence that North Korea seeks to increase the numbers of bombs it possesses and to produce them in the two ways in which it is possible: obtaining plutonium from the spent fuel produced by a nuclear reactor — which the North has already done at Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang — and enriching uranium to weapons grade, which is why the brand-new centrifuges are spinning in a building right next door to the reactor. (See TIME's photo-essay "The Iconography of Kim Jong Il.")

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