North Korea has restarted plutonium fuel production, sparking concern that it plans to pursue its nuclear weapons program in defiance of international sanctions, Reuters cited an unidentified US official told as saying Tuesday.
“Everything in North Korea is a cause for concern,” a senior State Department official was quoted as saying.
“They take the spent fuel from the 5 megawatt reactor at Yongbyon and let it cool and then take it to the reprocessing facility, and that’s where they’ve obtained the plutonium for their previous nuclear tests. So they are repeating that process,” the official said. “That’s what they’re doing.”
The US assessment came a day after the UN nuclear watchdog said it had “indications” that Pyongyang has reactivated a plant to recover plutonium from spent reactor fuel at Yongbyon, its main nuclear complex.
“I would agree that there are indications,” the US State Department official told Reuters.
The official declined to confirm whether this determination was made from satellite imagery or intelligence sources, the report said.
The latest developments suggest that the North Korean regime is working to ensure a steady supply of materials for its drive to build warheads, despite tightened international sanctions after its fourth nuclear test in January.
Pyongyang vowed in 2013 to restart all nuclear facilities, including the main reactor and the smaller plant at Yongbyon, which was shut down in 2007 as part of an international disarmament-for-aid deal that later collapsed.
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