U.S. envoy calls N. Korea enrichment claim a "concern"
The United States' special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said on Friday that the North's claim to be near completing experimental enrichment of uranium was "of concern", Reuters reported.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Bosworth said he had only just heard of Pyongyang's claim on Friday that it was close to completing enrichment of uranium, a step that if mastered and expanded could give it a path to the fissile material for nuclear weapons without operating atomic reactors.
"Obviously, anything that the North is doing in the area of nuclear development is of concern to us," Bosworth said.
"I think for all of us, it reconfirms the necessity to maintain a coordinated position on the need for complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," he added.
Bosworth said his talks with Chinese officials about the North Korean nuclear dispute went well, but he did not give any details. He will go on to Seoul for talks there and then Tokyo. He said he has no plans to meet officials from North Korea.
North Korea has already demonstrated it can set off a nuclear blast using plutonium, which is produced using nuclear reactors.
Under so-called six-party talks hosted by China, the North's biggest benefactor, North Korea agreed in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear programs. The talks broke down at the end of last year with Pyongyang saying the format was dead.
Pyongyang, which conducted its second nuclear test on May 25, ceased carrying out the six-party agreement under which it was to give up its atomic ambitions in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits.
The talks include North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.