North Korea appears to have restarted its plutonium-producing reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which said Monday it was concerned.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, an agency of the United Nations, indicated in its annual report that “since the beginning of July, there have been indications, namely, the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor.” The same report said that the Yongbyon reactor will be idle since the beginning of December 2018.
The agency stressed that restarting this 5-megawatt reactor could mean that Pyongyang continues its nuclear program in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The future of this nuclear complex was one of the sticking points at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s second summit with former US President Donald Trump in 2019, which was a failure.
North Korea has proposed dismantling part of the Yongbyon complex, but not the nuclear production infrastructure, in exchange for a “partial” lifting of economic sanctions. Washington rejected the offer, and negotiations between the two countries have since stalled.
The regime is subject to many international sanctions due to its military programmes, including nuclear programs, which have been banned and which have advanced greatly under Kim Jong Un’s administration. IAEA experts were expelled from North Korea in 2009, and since then the agency has been monitoring the country’s activities from abroad.
Recently, information also emerged that Pyongyang is using a nearby radiochemical laboratory to separate plutonium from the fuel used in the reactor.
A senior US State Department official told AFP that the report “emphasizes the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” adding that Washington “continues to pursue dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” Korea”.
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