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UN Nuclear Agency, IAEA finds evidence of North Korea Reactivating its ‘Plutonium’ Plant at Yongbyon

Exhaust plumes had been detected from the thermal plant at Yongbyon's main reprocessing installation on April, 2016

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Plutonium pellet. Image source: Wikipedia
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  • North Korea has probably reopened a plant to reprocess ‘plutonium’
  • 38 North, a website reported in April 2016, exhaust plumes were detected from the thermal plant
  • North Korea conducted a Hydrogen bomb nuclear test in January 2016 

The United Nations nuclear watchdog, IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) says North Korea appears to have reopened a plant to reprocess plutonium, an indication the communist country is widening its arms effort.

The IAEA said on Monday, June 6, that satellite evidence showed North Korea has likely resumed activities at a plant at Yongbyon to produce plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel.

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The information matches evidence found by the U.S. monitoring website 38 North, which reported in April that exhaust plumes had been detected from the thermal plant at Yongbyon’s main reprocessing installation.

North Korea
A satellite image provided by GeoEye shows the area around the Yongbyon nuclear facility in Yongbyon, North Korea. Image source: voanews.com

IAEA head Yukiya Amano says because the agency does not have monitors in North Korea, it cannot be certain about the North’s activities.

“As we do not have inspectors on the ground we are only observing through satellite imagery.  We cannot say for sure.  But we have indications of certain activities through the satellite imagery,” Amano told a regular news conference in Vienna.

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This year in 2016, in February, the director of U.S. National Intelligence, James Clapper, told U.S. lawmakers that the Korean country could be weeks or months away from recovering plutonium from Yongbyon.

North Korea reportedly conducted a nuclear test in January, in 2016 and followed it with a long-range rocket launch next month, inviting tougher sanctions from the United Nations.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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North Korea Halts Nuclear And Missile Tests

Pyongyang also says it plans to close nuclear test site as summit between North and South to be held on Friday.

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Kim Jong Un
FILE IMAGE- Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and missile tests, media reports said on Saturday.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

North Korea will also “shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests,” the report added.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

North Korean leader.
FILE – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). VOA

Pyongyang’s move comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries.

The last in-person talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

What will be the first-ever encounter between the leaders of North Korea and the US is expected to happen in late May or early June.

Also Read: Meaning of Denuclearization For North Korea

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, hailed the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump wrote on Twitter.  IANS