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North Korea turning toward uranium enrichment, Tokyo says

If Pyongyang is indeed enriching uranium, North Korea is in violation of an agreement reached with the United States.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 12, 2016 at 11:02 PM
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TOKYO, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- North Korea is likely to push ahead with the enrichment of uranium that could be used toward manufacturing nuclear weapons, according to Tokyo.

The Japanese government said Friday Pyongyang could also be capable of miniaturizing nuclear warheads, the Nihon Keizai reported.

The statement was supplied as a response to opposition party lawmaker Mitsunori Okamoto, who posed questions regarding the status of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Tokyo said since the North's fourth nuclear test, conducted on Jan. 6, the possibility Pyongyang has "achieved nuclear warhead miniaturization" cannot be ruled out.

If Pyongyang is indeed enriching uranium, then North Korea is in violation of an agreement reached in Beijing with the United States in 2012, when it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and nuclear missile tests in exchange for U.S. food aid.

The Japanese statement corresponds with an earlier U.S. statement from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who confirmed North Korea has in its possession 10-20 uranium or plutonium-based weapons of mass destruction, Kyodo News reported.

The intelligence reports come in the wake of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

In response to Pyongyang's most recent provocations that include the launch of a long-range rocket to send a satellite into space, the United States is to install an additional surface-to-air Patriot missile system, or PAC-3, U.S. Forces Korea stated Saturday, local time.

The U.S. military's 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, located at Osan Air Base, already retains two Patriot missile systems, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

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