BUSAN, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday called for North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, shortly after the North announced that its low-enriched uranium production efforts are "progressing apace."
"The United States stands with our ally and we look to North Korea to take concrete steps that promotes peace and stability and denucleariazation," Clinton told reporters on the sidelines of a global forum in Busan.
Clinton reaffirmed that the alliance with South Korea "has never been stronger."
Earlier in the day, North Korea's foreign ministry announced that it is speeding up the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor and enriched uranium production as fuel for the reactor.
The announcement is expected to raise tensions and cast clouds over efforts to resume the long-stalled six-party talks, as Seoul and Washington have demanded Pyongyang put an immediate halt to its uranium enrichment activity if it wants to restart the nuclear talks.
North Korea has called for an early resumption of the six-party talks without preconditions, but South Korea and the U.S. insist Pyongyang must first take concrete steps to show its sincerity, such as a monitored shutdown of its uranium enrichment plant.
The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since April 2009, when the North quit the negotiating table and then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.
Pyongyang claims the uranium enrichment program is for peaceful energy development but outside experts believe it will give the country a new source of fission material to make atomic bombs, in addition to its widely known plutonium-based nuclear weapons program.
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