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US: NKorea's nuke claim provocative, not surprise

SEOUL, South Korea – The U.S. special envoy for North Korea said Monday that Pyongyang\'s claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility is provocative and disappointing but not a crisis or a surprise.

Stephen Bosworth\'s comments, following a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, came as the United States and the North\'s neighbors scrambled to deal with Pyongyang\'s revelation to a visiting American nuclear scientist of a highly sophisticated, modern enrichment operation that had what the North says are 2,000 recently completed centrifuges.

"This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves" by North Korea, Bosworth said. "That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the (North\'s) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."

Kim also played down the facility, telling reporters: "It\'s nothing new."

Top U.S. military officials, however, warned that the facility could speed up the North\'s ability to make and deliver viable nuclear weapons.

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