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North Korea may have stopped its n-reactor, satellite images show

The report came ahead of the much-anticipated summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump

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Kim Jong Un'
Nuclear reactors were launched under the order of Kim. VOA

North Korea may have stopped operating in its only nuclear reactor, a website specialising in North Korean affairs said on Thursday, ahead of an upcoming summits with South Korea and the US in which possible denuclearisation of the Pyongyang regime is expected to be discussed.

According to an analysis of satellite images taken on March 30 by the website 38 North, the generators of the five-megawatt experimental reactor of the Yongbyon nuclear research centre did not seem to show any activity, Efe news reported. This could point to a deactivation of the nuclear facility, which the regime said was exclusively meant to produce electricity, despite suspicions in the international community that it produced plutonium which was later reprocessed for use in nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong Un
North Korean reactors may not be working now.

The website, linked to the John Hopkins University in the US, also said there was no evidence of plutonium reprocessing taking place at the radiochemical laboratory in Yongbyon. The report, however, said the images showed an excavation project nearby, which could indicate an attempt to provide a steady water flow into the facility to ensure the reactor runs more continuously and safely in the future. It also said there was a new truck activity at the reactor, which may indicate maintenance or repairs, transport of spent fuel rods or the offloading of fresh fuel. The analysis said this area should be closely monitored in future.

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The report came ahead of the much-anticipated summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump. The Moon-Kim talks on April 27 would be the first inter-Korean summit since 2007, while the May meeting with Trump would be the first between leaders of the two countries in history. IANS

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U.S. To End Waivers For Iran Oil imports

Oil exports are a key source of revenue for Tehran, which has been hit hard by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. RFERL

U.S. President Donald Trump has decided not to reissue waivers in May allowing importers to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions, the White House said in a statement on April 21.

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market,” the White House said.

“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the statement added.

The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won’t be renewed when they expire on May 2.

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The move is part of the Trump administration’s tough line on Iran. VOA

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington has had “extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) applauded the end of oil waivers for Iran.

“This decision will deprive the ayatollahs of billions of dollars that they would have spent undermining the security of the United States and our allies, building up Iran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs and financing global terrorism,” he said.

The move is part of the Trump administration’s tough line on Iran.

“We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime until its leaders change their destructive behavior, respect the rights of the Iranian people, and return to the negotiating table,” Pompeo said in an April 22 statement.

oil-refinery
“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the statement added. Pixabay

Oil exports are a key source of revenue for Tehran, which has been hit hard by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

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Ahead of Washington’s announcement, an unamed Iranian Oil Ministry source told the semiofficial Tasnim news agency that the United States will fail to cut Iranian oil exports to zero.

“Whether the waivers continue or not, Iran’s oil exports will not be zero under any circumstances unless Iranian authorities decide to stop oil exports…and this is not relevant now,” Tasnim quoted the unnamed “informed source” as saying. (RFERL)