Amid mounting speculation over its preparations for a third nuclear test, Pyeongyang has reportedly revealed a new nuclear facility equipped with hundreds of centrifuges used for uranium enrichment.
Siegfried Hecker, an American scientist who teaches at Stanford University, talked about his tour of the facility on his trip to North Korea earlier in the month in an interview with the New York Times.
Prohibited from taking pictures of the site, the US expert described that he was "stunned" by the plant's sophistication run by an "ultra-modern control room."
He added that the North Koreans claimed they have installed and are currently running 2-thousand centrifuges.
And since the facility did not exist in April 2009 when the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were forced to leave the isolated country, Pyeongyang has likely, with foreign aid, built the cutting-edge facility in a very short period of time.
This would also mean that the regime has violated a set of United Nations Security Council's sanctions strictly banning overseas arms trade and financial transactions.
Washington, meanwhile, hastily mobilized its diplomatic sources to make a case on North Korea's infringement of international sanctions.
A delegation led by the US special representative for North Korea policy, Stephen Bosworth, has embarked on a tour of South Korea, Japan and China, and the first stop will be in Seoul for meetings with top nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Monday.
And the North's new uranium enrichment plant as well as the alleged light-water reactor being built at the site of its former Yongbyon nuclear facility are expected to dominate the talks.
As for questions on the reclusive regime's latest provocation, it could be an attempt to negotiate a form of aid from the US and the international community in return for suspending or dismantling its nuclear development program.
Others speculate it is yet another attempt to boost the prestige of North Korea's heir apparent, Kim Jong-un.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.