"I'll just say that obviously their claims, if true, contradict the pledges and commitments that they've made repeatedly to the international community," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said concerning reports that the recluse Asian country was developing a uranium enrichment facility.
U.S. officials were traveling throughout the region to brief the country's partners and allies, as well as coordinating "a policy response to their actions," Gibbs said.
Stephen Bosworth, the top U.S. official addressing North Korea, said news that the reclusive country had developed a uranium enrichment facility was "disappointing" and the latest in a "series of provocative moves," South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
"That being said, this is not a crisis. We're not surprised by this," Bosworth said after meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. "We have been watching and analyzing (North Korea's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."
Gibbs said the Obama administration believes the six-party process involving China, Japan, Russia, the Koreas and the United States can play a vital role "if and when the North Koreans take that six-party process to move toward denuclearization seriously. ... The North Koreans have to be serious about living up to their obligations. And not having done so has put a sanctions regime in place that is the strongest that the country has ever faced and has greatly increased the price of their noncompliance."
Gibbs said the United States always has taken the nuclear threat from North Korea seriously "and we'll continue to do so."
The revelation of a uranium enrichment facility, located in Yongbyon, came after a U.S. security expert said North Korea had started building a light-water nuclear reactor that uses low-enriched uranium as fuel. A satellite image taken Nov. 4 showed the construction activity and another image released Monday displayed a building a U.S. scientist said contained "hundreds and hundreds" of centrifuges.
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