North Korea has resumed operations at the country’s main nuclear reactor. This is clear from Annual Report The International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the reactor located in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, produces plutonium. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium are the main ingredients for making nuclear weapons. “Since the beginning of 2021, there have been indications, such as the discharge of cooling water, that the reactor is operating,” the IAEA wrote. According to them, the reactor was certainly active from mid-February to early July of this year.
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The nuclear agency described North Korea’s nuclear activities as “extremely worrying”. The complex at Yongbyon is the heart of North Korea’s nuclear program. It was not clear how much highly enriched uranium and plutonium was produced at the complex and where North Korea was storing it.
Since 2009, IAEA inspectors have been denied access to the nuclear reactor or other sites in North Korea. So the agency used publicly available sources and satellite imagery for the report to monitor developments in North Korea’s nuclear program.
Twenty to sixty nuclear weapons
The Biden administration has been actively trying to establish diplomatic contact with North Korea since mid-February. Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump spoke personally with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at three summits. In early 2019, Kim offered to close the entire complex in exchange for broad sanctions relief.
But the Americans did not accept the offer because North Korea would only give up part of its nuclear capability by closing Yongbyon.
It is assumed that there are several facilities in the country where uranium enrichment takes place. In 2018, South Korea estimated that North Korea had produced at least 20 to 60 nuclear weapons.
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