David E Sanger and William J. Broad
New York Times
December 14, 2010

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has concluded that North Korea’s new plant to enrich nuclear fuel uses technology that is “significantly more advanced” than what Iran has struggled over two decades to assemble, according to senior administration and intelligence officials.

In carefully worded public comments in recent days, both senior American and South Korean officials have also argued that the the new plant, a facility shown to a Stanford University expert last month, could not have been constructed so quickly unless there was a sophisticated network of other secret sites — and perhaps a fully running uranium enrichment plant — elsewhere in the country.

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American officials said the thousands of centrifuges in the plant appear to be an advanced type known as the P-2, a Pakistani design that was sold on the global nuclear black market. The centrifuges spin incredibly fast to enrich uranium, which can fuel reactors or bombs.These conclusions strongly suggest that North Korea has evaded the many layers of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and America’s allies in Asia. The conclusions also greatly complicate the task for American diplomats — including a senior delegation of State Department and White House officials who left for China on Tuesday — who have been struggling for weeks now to fashion a plan to contain North Korea’s nuclear advances and prevent a repetition of its recent attack on the South.

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