Nuclear regulator issues warning on North Korean reactor restart

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Update on North Korea’s nuclear tensions

The UN nuclear watchdog has warned that North Korea appears to have restarted its largest nuclear reactor, which poses another security challenge for Joe Biden, as the US president is under tremendous pressure due to the crisis in Afghanistan.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that since the beginning of July, the Yongbyon nuclear reactor had “operating signs consistent with its operating conditions” and said there were signs that the reactor may have been restarted “deeply disturbing”.

The report marked the first sign of an operation in Yongbyon, about 90 kilometers north of Pyongyang, between the two summits between Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump in December 2018.

According to the report, the latest signs of activity include steam coming out of the plant serving the radiochemical laboratory at the site, which was operating from February to July. Then drain the cooling water.

“This operating period is consistent with the reprocessing activities previously announced by North Korea [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] Emissions of irradiated fuel. .. Reactor,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

It added that in 2003, 2005, and 2009, North Korea announced reprocessing activities in laboratories, each of which lasted approximately five months.

North Korea’s main nuclear facility in Yongbyon is the key Bargaining chip Kim offered to trade in exchange for Washington to lift sanctions. Despite three face-to-face meetings and exchanges of notes, King’s proposal to destroy the facility was not accepted.

Analysts pointed out that the restart of Yongbyon activities may herald Pyongyang’s first step towards peace. upgrade Military hostilities to ease sanctions.

Leif Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said: “Since North Korea knows that such nuclear activities are easy to detect, people have to wonder if they are going to sell Yongbyon again.” “But even if Pyongyang is considering resuming negotiations… it may start with a missile test instead of diplomatic contact.”

Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, said that the reopening of Yongbyon confirmed the trajectory of North Korea’s improvement of “the survivability of its nuclear deterrence lacks a reliable alternative.”

“In a sense, it created artificial bargaining chips for it, just as the United States imposed sanctions on North Korea at the end of the Obama era in order to give his successor artificial bargaining chips,” Jackson said.

Since taking office, the Biden administration Completed the review Decide on its North Korea policy and insist on being open to negotiations, despite criticism that North Korea, which possesses nuclear weapons, is not at the forefront of Washington’s foreign policy.

Yang Maojin, a professor at the University of Korean Studies, said that more specific information is needed to determine whether North Korea is extracting weapon-grade plutonium in Yongbyon.

Yoon added that while the restart will cause concerns in Washington, the United States faces more pressing issues, including withdrawing from its Army from Afghanistan And the coronavirus pandemic.

Yongbyon’s restart is also in the UN’s recent report that Pyongyang’s recovery technology Cooperation with Iran Regarding the development of long-range ballistic missiles. Tehran officials denied these claims.

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