UN says North Korea appears to restart Yongbyon nuclear reactor

UN says North Korea appears to restart Yongbyon nuclear reactor
North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons since IAEA inspectors were expelled. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: UN atomic agency has said in a report that North Korea appears to have restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which is a nuclear complex with a 5-megawatt reactor.

Plutonium is believed to be produced at the reactor’s complex. The meterial is used for nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang expelled the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2009 but it relies on satellite imagery to carry out assessments.

The watchdog said the Yongbyon reactor has been discharging cooling water since July, suggesting it is operational.

Yongbyon is at the heart of North Korea’s nuclear programme.

This was the first sign of operational activity at the reactor since December 2018, which is months after the then US President Donald Trump met Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

Yongbyon nuclear reactor has long been monitored from afar by experts trying tounderstand of how many weapons North Korea is capable of producing.

The UN atomic agency also gave more details about a radiochemical laboratory at the same complex, which re-processes spent nuclear fuel. IAEA had earlier flagged up the lab’s operations in June.

The laboratory had been operating for 5 months leading up to July 2021, according to latest report, suggesting that it handled a full batch of spent fuel.

The IAEA said the developments at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor and laboratory was “deeply troubling” and a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the government is “continuously monitoring the North’s nuclear and missile activities in close cooperation with the United States”.

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