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

Plutonium pellet. Image source: Wikipedia
  • 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