Agence France-Presse

North Korea resumes work on nuclear reactor


Two North Korean soldiers stand guard in front of the Unha-3 rocket at Tangachai -ri space center on April 8, 2012.



North Korea has resumed work on a light water reactor that could be used to support its nuclear program, according to BBC.

The information came from satellite photographs taken on April 30 by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The photographs show new construction at the Yongbyon site. 

Pyongyang has stepped up progress towards conducting a third nuclear test, perhaps using highly enriched uranium for the first time, despite warnings from the United States and China, according to Reuters. 

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The New York Times reported, North Korea initially unveiled a uranium enrichment plant in Yongbyon in November 2010. At the time they said it was enriching uranium for fuel for the reactors it planned to build to resolve its electricity shortages. International nuclear experts believed that the North’s enrichment program was not intended to produce energy, but rather to produce highly enriched uranium, another type of fuel for nuclear bombs.

The New York Times speculated, North Korea may be trying to produce a nuclear bomb to regain leverage in talks with the US. 

According to the US-Korea Institute site, "Pyongyang's construction of an ELWR — which the North Koreans have indicated is the prototype for additional reactors — as well as a uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, is an important indication of the North's intention to move forward with the expansion of its nuclear weapons stockpile in the future."

The group also explained, the satellite photography revealed Pyongyang is now close to completion of the reactor containment building. They will now load larger components to complete the project. The group estimated that process could take between 6-12 months to complete and estimated it will be another 1-2 years before the facility is operational. 

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