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The Next Nuclear Power?

A six-member congressional team led by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) is flying home from a visit to North and South Korea. According to Weldon, North Korean leaders told the group that their country has nuclear weapons and plans to build more.

U.S. officials say they don't know whether to believe the claim. One reason is that few Americans have ever been allowed to visit the communist country's nuclear facilities. Robert Alvarez, in 1994, was part of the first U.S. delegation to visit the nuclear facility at Yongbyon. Alvarez, who worked at the Department of Energy, was the highest ranking official on the trip.

He says everything he encountered was old, primitive -- as if he'd stepped into a time machine. He recounts his visit -- and the questions it left him with -- to NPR's David Kestenbaum.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.
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