Mullen: North Korea’s Nuclear Actions ‘Very Dangerous’

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2010 — Rev­e­la­tions that North Korea has secret­ly built a large ura­ni­um enrich­ment facil­i­ty val­i­dates long-stand­ing con­cerns about that nation’s nuclear inten­tions and is a desta­bi­liz­ing force in the region, the top U.S. mil­i­tary offi­cer said today.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week ” TV pro­grams this morn­ing.

“The assump­tion cer­tain­ly is that [North Korea] con­tin­ues to head in the direc­tion of addi­tion­al nuclear weapons,” Mullen said. “They are also known to pro­lif­er­ate this tech­nol­o­gy, so they’re a very dan­ger­ous coun­try.”

Accord­ing to a sto­ry that appeared yes­ter­day in The New York Times, North Kore­an offi­cials allowed vis­it­ing Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor Siegfried Heck­er, for­mer direc­tor of the Los Alam­os Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry, to tour a sophis­ti­cat­ed new ura­ni­um enrich­ment plant that North Korea has built in secret and may have been built with for­eign help.

“I’ve been con­cerned for a long time about insta­bil­i­ty in that region and North Korea has been at the cen­ter of that,” Mullen said. “We’ve worked hard with oth­er coun­tries to try to bring pres­sure on them” to com­ply with strict Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions relat­ed to North Korea’s nuclear ambi­tions.

“This in fact vio­lates Unit­ed Nations Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions 1718 [2006] and 1874 [2009],” Mullen said. “And it vio­lates what they said they’d do in 2005 with respect to get­ting to the six-par­ty talks [aimed at address­ing the country’s nuclear pro­gram]. So they’re a coun­try that rou­tine­ly we are unable to believe they will do what they say.” North Korea is the great­est threat to peace in North­east Asia and the focal point of the defense pos­ture on the penin­su­la. North Korea is believed to have at least 1.5 mil­lion mil­i­tary mem­bers along with its nuclear capa­bil­i­ties.

In March, North Korea tor­pe­doed and sank the South Kore­an navy ship Cheo­nan, killing 46 sailors.

In Octo­ber, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and South Kore­an Defense Min­is­ter Kim Tae-young par­tic­i­pat­ed in the 42nd Secu­ri­ty Con­sul­ta­tive Meet­ing here, after which they told reporters that the U.S.-South Korea mil­i­tary alliance has nev­er been stronger.

Both men called on North Korea to end provoca­tive actions like the Cheo­nan attack.

The news that the ail­ing North Kore­an leader Kim Jong-il has anoint­ed his son, Kim Jong-un, as his suc­ces­sor has the alliance prepar­ing to defend against all pos­si­ble North Kore­an threats.

“We have to con­tin­ue to bring pres­sure on [Kim Jong-il],” Mullen said, specif­i­cal­ly through the six-par­ty-talk coun­tries — Rus­sia, Chi­na, the Unit­ed States, Japan and South Korea. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma “sent out a team to each of the cap­i­tals this week­end to re-engage. That’s where we are right now and I’m sure we will con­tin­ue to do that,” Mullen said. “We’ve been engaged with Chi­na for an extend­ed peri­od of time with respect to North Korea,” Mullen added. “A great part of this will have to be done through Bei­jing.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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