IAEA chief warns of new phase in N. Korea threat

AFPSEOUL (AFP-Jiji) — North Korea’s uranium enrichment facility has doubled in size over the last few years, the U.N. atomic watchdog chief warned, as global tensions grow over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Wall Street Journal the isolated state’s nuclear capacities are being ramped up.

“The situation is very bad... It has gone into a new phase,” Amano said in the report published Monday. “All of the indications point to the fact that North Korea is making progress, as they declared.”

Pyongyang has rapidly expanded its facilities for enriching uranium and plutonium production in recent years, Amano told the Journal, expressing doubt over the potential for a diplomatic solution.

During a visit to South Korea last week, Tillerson declared Washington would drop the “failed” approach of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang and warned U.S. military action was possible.

That marked a sharp divergence from China’s insistence on a diplomatic approach to its neighbor, which it has long protected.

In January, South Korea said the North had enough plutonium to make 10 nuclear bombs, as well as a “considerable” ability to produce weapons based on highly enriched uranium.Speech

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