North Korea may have restarted plutonium production. A State Department senior official revealed the Communist country might once again be attempting to launch a nuclear weapons program.
A United Nations nuclear watchdog group first discovered the satellite images which led U.S. officials to believe North Korea could be defying international sanctions and reopening its plutonium plant in Yongbyon. The watchdog group also feels Pyongyang is attempting to recover “spent reactor fuel,” according to AOL.
Exhaust plumes were reportedly spotted at the Yongbyon plant in April, according to a report in the Guardian. Plumes were allegedly spotted coming from the North Korean plant’s radiochemical laboratory at least two or three times in recent weeks.
In February, United States intelligence officials told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea could be “weeks” away from recovering plutonium at the Yongbyon plant.
North Korea to restart plutonium production to supply their nuclear weapons. https://t.co/kxSjb1et0C
— Jesus-Ready (@Jesus_Ready_Org) June 8, 2016
North Korea is allegedly in the process of working to create a steady supply of reactor fuel in an effort to build nuclear warheads. The State Department is saying very little about the nuclear weapons developments which have sparked increased concern about the possibility of a nuclear war.
The International Atomic Energy Agency continually monitors activity in North Korea via satellite. The IAEA, like other governmental entities, does not have access to the Communist nation in any other manner. The watchdog group reported signs of activity at the plutonium plant last year.
During an interview with Reuters, an unidentified U.S. official who agreed only to speak only on condition of anonymity, said, “Everything in North Korea is a cause for concern.”
The same government source said North Korea can take spent fuel from a five megawatt reactor at the Yongbyon plutonium plant and nuclear reprocessing facility. The plutonium used in prior nuclear tests is believed to have come from this same plant.
“So they are repeating that process. That’s what they’re doing,” the unidentified government source added. “I would agree that there are indications,” the U.S. official said, stopping short of verifying if the discovery was made from intelligence sources or satellite images. He also would not say exactly how much plutonium North Korea could make via the alleged reprocessing endeavor.
In 2013, despite international sanctions banning such a practice, North Korea reportedly conducted its fourth nuclear test. The Yongbyon plant was shuttered in 2007 during an “international disarmament for aid” deal which ultimately collapsed.
During a Monday news conference in Vienna, IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano, said evidence exists to indicate plutonium reprocessing efforts in North Korea are now underway. The reactor fuel reprocessing procedure reportedly involves extracting plutonium from spent fuel to obtain nuclear bomb fuel other than uranium enrichment.
North Korea apparently reopened a plutonium plant – Business Insider https://t.co/TeB0TYHUck
— North Korea Update (@NKUpdates) June 8, 2016
China has long been deemed the only ally of North Korea. China has also publicly supported the “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Cheong Joon-hee said Seoul is closely monitoring the alleged activity at the North Korean plutonium plant “with grave concern.”
“We hope all parties can work hard together to put the nuclear issue back on the track of dialog and negotiations,” Chinese spokesman Hong Lei, added.
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) June 7, 2016
The Yongbyon plutonium plant uses technology garnered from the primary developer of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, A.Q. Khan, according to a report by Ars Technica. An alleged attempt by the United States to infect the operating system at the North Korean plant with the vicious Stuxnet malware reportedly failed due to the stringent government control of both the internet and computer access.
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