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N. Korea dismisses reports of order to make nuclear bombs
SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Friday dismissed as "groundless" Japanese media reports that the North's late leader Kim Jong-il had issued an order to mass-produce nuclear bombs by using highly enriched uranium.

   "It is a politically-motivated plot to create a fresh atmosphere for ratcheting up international pressure on the (North) as the story is a totally groundless and sheer fabrication," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary.

   The commentary claims the media reports prove that Japan's hostile policy toward the North has reached an extreme phase.

   The North's reaction came four days after the Tokyo Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun reported that Kim said a uranium enrichment plant Pyongyang disclosed to a visiting U.S. scientist in 2010 was not designed for civilian industry.

   Kim told officials that it is natural for uranium enrichment to be used in making atomic bombs, the newspapers said, citing leaked internal documents from the North's Workers' Party.

   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.

   The North has insisted that it is producing low enriched uranium to solve its acute electricity problem. Nighttime satellite photos of the Korean Peninsula show a pitch-black North neighboring a brightly illuminated South Korea.

   Kim died in December and was succeeded by his youngest son Jong-un.

   entropy@yna.co.kr
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