SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea said Friday that it is in the final stages of enriching uranium, a process that could give the nation a second way to make nuclear bombs in addition to its known plutonium-enriching program.
The official Korean Central News Agency said in a report early Friday that North Korea informed the U.N. Security Council it is forging ahead with its nuclear programs in defiance of international calls to abandon its atomic ambitions.
The dispatch said plutonium "is being weaponized," and that uranium enrichment - a program North Korea revealed in recent months - was entering the "completion phase." Experts had long suspected the existence of a hidden uranium enrichment program, which would give the regime a second source of nuclear material.
A South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
The North's announcement came a day after a U.S. special envoy arrived in Beijing for talks with Chinese officials on how to get North Korea back on track with its commitments to nuclear disarmament.
Stephen Bosworth, the special envoy to North Korea, was to arrive in Seoul later Friday for similar consultations with South Korean officials before traveling to Tokyo on Sunday as part of an Asia tour amid recent conciliatory moves by Pyongyang.
His visit to the region aims to "continue consultations with our partners and allies on how to best convince North Korea that it must live up to its obligations ... and take irreversible steps toward complete denuclearization," the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement.
North Korea called the decision to push ahead with its nuclear programs a reaction to the Security Council's moves to tighten sanctions against the regime for testing a nuclear bomb in May. The report called the resolution a "wanton violation of the DPRK's sovereignty and dignity." DPRK stands for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The U.S., China, Japan, Russia and South Korea have been negotiating with North Korea for years on dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for aid and other concessions.
North Korea walked away from the talks earlier this year. North Korea also conducted its second nuclear test in May, drawing international condemnation and new U.N. sanctions.
The North's move also came amid its conciliatory overtures to Seoul and Washington. The North freed two U.S. journalists and five South Koreans, including four fishermen, in recent weeks.
The two Koreas also agreed to restart reunions of Korean family separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and restored regular traffic to a joint industrial park in the North.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
More than 100 people staged a "die in" and held a candlelight vigil Tuesday outside UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest to protest the Senate Republican health care bill.
Two people were killed Tuesday afternoon in a head-on collision between a car and a pickup truck on a rural North County road.
The agency in charge of U.S. border security plans to start building prototypes for President Donald Trump's proposed wall with Mexico later this summer.
Whether it's a trip to the beach or a dip in the pool, swimming is a great way to beat the heat. The Nurse Practitioners at CVS Minute Clinic said taking the plunge can sometimes leave you with a painful infection.
A San Diego sailor who recently returned home was surprised by a big announcement by his wife who kept a big secret while he was deployed.
It's not just people who need to stay cool during the long, hot summer days.
Our pets need special care to prevent potentially dangerous overheating.
News 8's Shawn Styles has some tips on keeping your furry friends comfortable during triple-digit days.
A replacement for the former Chargers Blood Drive was announced Tuesday by the San Diego Blood Bank.
A wildfire spread over an open, hilly area near Sycuan Casino Tuesday, blackening about 25 acres but posing no structural threats.
A Pacific Beach man is asking San Diegans to be on the lookout for his prized possession - a 1958 Buick Special, which was stolen out of his garage.