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It's official: North Korea says 'modern' nuclear plant is operating

North Korea boasted Tuesday to running 'thousands' of nuclear centrifuges, a week after launching a deadly artillery attack on South Korea, as China pressed for six-nation crisis talks.

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North Koreans are 'preparing their cards'

As for when North Korea is likely to test an explosive with highly enriched uranium, Mr. Lim says, “We don’t know what surprise event they are preparing.” The North Koreans “are preparing their cards.”

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North Korea publicized its reactor one week after North Korean gunners fired 170 artillery rounds into a small island in the Yellow Sea eight miles from the North Korean coastline, killing two marines and two civilians.

US and South Korean warships, led by the US aircraft carrier George Washington, on Sunday opened four days of what a South Korean defense official calls “high-intensity” drills 50 miles south of the island.

US jet fighters Tuesday were taking off from the George Washington, said the official, intercepting mock aircraft aided by radar from US and South Korean destroyers and aircraft. Ships simulated interdiction of vessels in “search and seizure” looking for contraband cargo.

US and South Korean forces staged the war games, which end tomorrow, to the din of North Korean threats of “all-out war,” “merciless punishment,” and “unforeseen consequences.”

North Korea and WikiLeaks on Iran's nuclear technology

Intelligence analysts believe that over the past decade North Korea has shipped missiles to Iran and exchanged nuclear components and technology with Iran as well as Pakistan by air via China, despite UN sanction resolutions.

Documents released this week by WikiLeaks show the US informing China of aircraft stopping in Beijing carrying missiles from North Korea to Iran while North Korea scours world markets for components.

South Korea, however, appears reluctant to make the link between Iran and North Korea, which former US President George W. Bush in 2002 labeled as part an “axis of evil." South Korea imports 10 percent of its oil from Iran while South Korean companies export cars and high-tech products to Iran – and have invested heavily in projects there.

“If we are sure Iran goes down the path of nuclear weapons, that will be destabilizing,” says Lee Chung-min, dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University, who also serves as ambassador for international security. “If there is incontrovertible evidence that North Korea is assisting Iran’s nuclear program, that will be of critical concern.”

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