TOKYO, July 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il had ordered his officials to mass-produce nuclear bombs by using highly enriched uranium, Japanese news reports said Monday, citing an internal document obtained from Pyongyang.
Uranium, if highly enriched, can be used to make weapons, providing Pyongyang with a second way of building atomic bombs after its existing plutonium-based program. North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Kim said a uranium enrichment plant the North disclosed to a visiting U.S. scientist in 2010 was not designed for civilian industry, the Tokyo Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun reported, citing Kim's comments contained in an internal document of the North's Workers' Party.
Kim instructed officials "to mass-produce nuclear bombs," noting it is natural for uranium enrichment to be used in making atomic bombs, the newspapers said, citing the February document.
It is the first time that Kim's order for the development of nuclear bombs has been revealed in a document from the North.
Still, the newspapers did not give any further details on when Kim made the alleged comments. Kim died in December and was succeeded by his youngest son Jong-un.
Kim's alleged comments run counter to the North's official position that Pyongyang was producing low enriched uranium to solve its acute electricity problem.
The energy-starved communist country has vowed not to abandon its right to pursue peaceful nuclear activities to generate electricity. Nighttime satellite photos of the Korean Peninsula show a pitch-black North neighboring a brightly illuminated South Korea.
North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un has also called on officials to maintain a hard-line stance on the issue of improving relations with the United States and Japan, the newspapers said.
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