North Korea is thought to have been developing a secret atomic weapons programme for seven or eight years despite taking part in long-running nuclear disarmament talks, a South Korean minister said Monday.
Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek said Pyongyang never intended to give up its atomic weaponry, even though previous Seoul governments practised a decade-long “sunshine” aid and engagement policy.
Responding defiantly to tougher United Nations sanctions following its nuclear test last month, the communist state vowed Saturday to build more bombs and to start a new weapons programme based on uranium enrichment.
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The latest threats were set to dominate a summit Tuesday in Washington between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and US President Barack Obama.
Hyun told a parliamentary hearing he believes the enrichment programme — a second route to an atomic bomb after the North’s admitted plutonium operation — had in fact been in existence for years.