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Tuesday’s attack was the latest in a string of incidents. In August, the North fired 110 artillery shells near Yeonpyeong and another island.

It also was disclosed that North Korea is building a light-water nuclear reactor, an indication that concerns about a uranium enrichment program were borne out.

Stephen W. Bosworth, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, said while this was not reason enough to reassess the entire U.S. strategy toward North Korea and its nuclear programs, it is a very serious development.

“We are not calling into question our overall approach to this, which is an approach based on a multilateral effort, close coordination with the other four countries involved, and a commitment to dialogue, and a continued pursuit of the implementation of the joint statement of September 2005,” Mr. Bosworth said in Beijing. “But we are very concerned as to the sincerity of the [North’s] approach to this.”

The George W. Bush administration took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2008 in exchange for an unfulfilled promise by Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear-weapons program.

Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, said the development at the Yongbyon nuclear facility was a cause for concern.

“We should be worried. … This revelation of a facility in Yongbyon may be new, but this is an issue we have followed for some time, and have been concerned about for quite some time,” Mr. Kim said at a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Monday.

The developments also have resulted in calls on China to condemn the actions of its communist ally.

Mr. Kim, the U.S. special envoy, said Beijing has a “special responsibility” to condemn the North’s actions owing to its “special relationship” with Pyongyang.

Mr. Bosworth discussed the attack on Yeonpyeong with Chinese officials in Beijing on Tuesday.

“I think we both share the view that such conflict is very undesirable,” Mr. Bosworth said.

He said the U.S. and Chinese sides “strongly believe that a multilateral, diplomatic approach is the only way to realistically resolve these problems.”

China appealed to the Koreas to remain calm and “to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

The White House said the U.S. will work with the international community to strongly condemn the “outrageous action by North Korea, and to advance peace and security in the region.”

The North-South border is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

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