SURPRISED AGAIN – AT 10:18 A.M. ET: If there are two words that define the recent failures in American foreign policy they are "North Korea." Now, apparently, we've been surprised again, and in a very grim way. These are chickens that will come home to roost. From the BBC:
An American nuclear scientist says he was shown a vast new nuclear facility when he visited North Korea last week.
Dr Siegfried Hecker said he had been shown "more than 1,000 centrifuges" for enriching uranium, which can be used for making nuclear weapons.
The Stanford University scientist was stunned at how sophisticated the plant was, according to reported remarks.
When international weapons inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009, the plant did not exist, officials say.
Dr Hecker's discovery was first reported in the New York Times, where he spoke of being taken to see an "ultra-modern control room".
In subsequent remarks obtained by AP news agency, he said that unlike other North Korean facilities it "would fit into any modern American processing facility", and spoke of more than 1,000 centrifuges "all neatly aligned and plumbed below us".
He said the facilities appeared to be primarily for civilian nuclear power - and he saw no evidence of plutonium production.
But Dr Hecker said the new facilities he viewed "could be readily converted to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel", AP reported.
The North is believed to have weaponised enough plutonium for at least six atomic bombs but is not known to have a uranium-based weapons programme.
COMMENT: I love that last line, the old leftist BBC trying to reassure us. But the facts are clear: North Korea is going ahead with its nuclear program despite all the years of negotiations, and there appears nothing is going to get in their way. The North recently sank a South Korean warship, and received little more than a reprimand.
North Korea is known to export its technology. It is also unstable and impoverished. This is one of the most dangerous situations in the world, and we really don't seem to care much. Democracies, as a rule, need to be jolted awake.
November 21, 2010