N Korea bomb fuel 'imminent'

William Perry, the United States Defense Secretary, said that North Korea would have enough extra fuel within weeks to produce plutonium for up to five nuclear bombs, Reuter reports from Seoul. But he saw no imminent danger of military confrontation and said Washington would stick to patient diplomacy and not initiate or provoke a war.

He said the United States knew North Korea's nuclear programme included a 25MW reactor, a 200MW reactor under construction, a radio-chemistry laboratory and high-explosive testing facilities.

'Within weeks it will be necessary for North Korea to remove fuel which is now in its 25MW reactor,' Mr Perry said. 'This fuel would provide sufficient plutonium to make four to five nuclear bombs.'