PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP with contributions from WYTV) – With a big anniversary drawing near, North Korea declared Tuesday it has upgraded and restarted all of its atomic fuel plants – meaning it could possibly make more, and more sophisticated, nuclear weapons.
The statement, coming just a day after it said it is ready to conduct more rocket launches any time it sees fit, has heightened concerns the North may soon either conduct a launch – which Washington and its allies see as a pretext for testing missile technology – or hold another test of nuclear weapons that it could conceivably place on such a rocket.
Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said as with Iran’s nuclear program, a diplomatic approach should be taken.
“It is important for us to know that you have got to sit down and negotiate these deals. You have to have a hammer waiting if you got to hit them. But you have got to sit down and diplomatically work through these issues. I hope we can sit down and make something work with North Korea.”
North Korea’s recent statements also fit a pattern of using claimed improvements in its nuclear and missile programs – many of which don’t lead to launches or nuclear tests – to push for talks with the United States that could eventually provide the impoverished country with concessions and eased sanctions, or backfire and deepen its standoff with the U.S. and its allies.