Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN: North Korea appears to have restarted reactor



UN: North Korea appears to have restarted reactor

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to dismantle part of the Yongbyon complex at a second summit with then US president Donald Trump in exchange for sanctions relief, and his offer was rejected. AFP/File

UN: North Korea appears to have restarted reactor

Nuclear-armed North Korea appears to have restarted its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor in a “deeply troubling” development, the UN atomic agency has said, a possible sign Pyongyang is expanding its banned weapons programme.

The development on the 5MW reactor in Yongbyon – North Korea’s main nuclear complex – comes with nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington at a standstill.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to dismantle part of the Yongbyon complex at a second summit with then US president Donald Trump but not other sites, in exchange for sanctions relief, and his offer was rejected.

North Korea is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which have seen rapid progress under Kim.

“Since early July, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its annual report.

The Yongbyon reactor appeared to have been inactive from December 2018 until then, added the report dated August 27.

IAEA inspectors were kicked out of North Korea in 2009, and the agency has since monitored it from outside.

The possible operation of the reactor follows a recent indication that Pyongyang is also using a nearby radiochemical laboratory to separate plutonium from spent fuel previously removed from the reactor.

The signs of the reactor and laboratory operations were “deeply troubling”, the IAEA said, adding the activities were a “clear violation” of UN resolutions.

About 100km north of Pyongyang, Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for North Korea’s weapons programme.

Yongbyon is not believed to be North Korea’s only uranium enrichment facility and closing it down would not in and of itself signal an end to the country’s atomic programme.

North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing during a diplomatic process in 2018 but said it was abandoning its self-declared moratorium in January 2020.

It has subsequently carried out a series of short-range missile launches but has not conducted a nuclear test since 2017.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The