North Korea declared progress in its nuclear program on Nov. 30, which it continues to maintain is only for peaceful purposes.
The announcement, reported by Reuters, comes a week after North Korea fired over 100 artillery shells in an unprovoked attack on a South Korean island, killing four people, including two civilians.
North Korea said it has thousands of working centrifuges and is in the process of building a light-water reactor.
"Currently, construction of a light-water reactor is in progress actively and a modern uranium enrichment plant equipped with several thousands of centrifuges, to secure the supply of fuels, is operating," reported North Korean national newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, according to Reuters.
Earlier in this month, Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker reported that North Korea’s new uranium enrichment facility, which appears to be for electricity generation, could also be converted to produce weapons grade plutonium.
In remarks on Nov. 30, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, said that recent reports show that North Korean nuclear activities violate two United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Rice said she expects the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee along with a panel of U.N. experts, to intensify efforts to tighten sanctions on the country.
She said, “Our concerns about these nuclear activities have only been heightened by North Korea’s deadly, unprovoked attack last week on Yeonpyeong, an island under U.N. command, control, and administered by South Korea.”
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen commented in a televised broadcast on Sunday that the North’s torpedoing of the South Korean naval ship the Chenoan in March, and last week’s military strike, are moves by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to assure the accession to power of his son, Kim Jong Un.
“He [Kim Jong Il] is consistently destabilizing and is only predictable in his unpredictability,” said the admiral. “He galvanizes everyone around with the potential that they could go to war with South Korea.”