A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said North Korea appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, which the group called “deeply troubling.”
“Since early July 2021, there have been indications consistent with the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor,” said the IAEA report, which was dated Friday.
“The DPRK’s nuclear activities continue to be a cause for serious concern,” the report said. “Furthermore, the new indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor and the Radiochemical Laboratory are deeply troubling.
“The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.”
In its annual report, the International Atomic Energy Agency said North Korea appeared to have restarted a nuclear reactor believed to have produced plutonium for the country’s nuclear arsenal https://t.co/gBSeRiJkyv pic.twitter.com/en4cotUcD9
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 30, 2021
“Yongbyon, a nuclear complex at the heart of North Korea’s nuclear programme,” is the location of the reactor, Reuters reported Monday.
“More plutonium could help North Korea make smaller nuclear weapons to fit on its ballistic missiles, said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security,” the report said.
“It appears to indicate North Korea has resumed producing plutonium for its nuclear weapons program,” said Gary Samore, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“While North Korea already has a significant stockpile of nuclear weapons,” Samore added.
“The Kim Jong Un regime has achieved alarming success in its quest to demonstrate the capability to threaten the U.S. homeland with nuclear-armed ICBMs, believing such weapons are necessary to deter U.S. military action and ensure his regime’s survival,” VanHerck told the Senate Armed Forces Committee.
U.S. intelligence officials have been watching a site in Sanum-dong where they believe ballistic missile and space launch vehicles have been constructed, the report said.
A March 12 analysis of satellite images by 38 North found that North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear center had been conducting activities as well.
“It would be a violation of U.N. resolutions on a grand scale; it would require [a] strong Biden admin response; and it would curtail diplomatic outreach,” Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Bruce Klingner said of a potential ICBM test, according to CNN.
“When they do something provocative, it puts a three- to six-month pause on diplomacy because no one wants to be seen rewarding that kind of behavior.”
If North Korea does in fact perform an ICBM test, the Biden administration’s response will be critical to both the perception and safety of the United States.
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