Facility Speeds North's Korea's Nuclear Ability
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Welcome back to the program, sir.
DAVID SANGER: Good to be with you, Steve.
INSKEEP: Were you surprised by this?
SANGER: The big surprise here was that many people, including the Dr. Hecker, did not believe that they have the capacity to build a modern, industrial size facility. And that's what he saw.
INSKEEP: That's Siegfried Hecker, that's the scientist we're referring to here. So this suggest that even though we're dealing with a country that's blown up nuclear weapons, we know that they can do that, this suggests that there even more sophisticated than we thought?
SANGER: They know that what the United States is most concerned about is they could get out and sell material, as they have sold many others things. And this uranium would give them - this uranium plant - would give them a way for continuing production. And that's why it's really a concern. Not that they aren't a nuclear, power - though the U.S. doesn't recognize them is that - but that they could get the material on a continuing basis and sell it.
INSKEEP: Well, they seem to have constructed this plant in secret. And least it was a secret to the public at large. As far as you can tell, was it a secret to U.S. officials or other officials around the world?
SANGER: However, when I ask the question did you know that this plant was going in at Yongbyon, which is a very carefully watched nuclear center inside North Korea, nobody would answer the question for me. And I found that pretty telling.
INSKEEP: Hmm, so maybe they didn't know, or didn't know as much as we know now. So why do you think the North Koreans, if that were the case, would basically make a public announcement by bringing in an American scientist to look around?
SANGER: Now, we don't have any evidence yet that they have the technology to go do this. But it would give them all of the componentry(ph) that they would need and all the material they would need.
INSKEEP: David, thanks for talking us through this.
SANGER: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's David Sanger, author of "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power." He's also a correspondent for The New York Times.
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