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.
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.
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