Nuclear Watchdogs Warn: North Korea Resumed a Key Nuclear Plant

Nuclear watchdogs are giving warnings about the recent movements in North Korea; the nation recently resumed the operation of nuclear reactors capable of generating weapons-grade plutonium. 

North Korea resumed the nuclear plant capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium

A report released on Sunday by the global nuclear watchdog revealed that North Korea resumed the operation of a nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. The five-megawatt nuclear plant is believed to be widely capable of creating weapons-grade nuclear weapons. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency noted that these developments in North Korea are “deeply troubling”, noting that nuclear activities and other radiochemical reactors remain a serious cause of concern. The most recent nuclear test that was made by North Korea was back in 2017 when the United Nations Security Council commanded the country to stop its nuclear program. 

However, from mid-February up until early July 2021, the International Atomic Energy Agency has seen signs consistent with the resumption of the nuclear plant. Included therein is the secretion of cooling water. 

Independent analysis and scientific reports likewise stated that the nuclear plant located in Yongbyon has the ability to produce a high volume of weapons-grade plutonium within a year. 

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has been consistently vocal about his nuclear ambitions. Back in January, he mentioned that he will be seeking entirely new nuclear capacities in North Korea directed at achieving the objective of modernization of nuclear power.

Last year, he likewise talked about developing a “new” strategic weaponry. 

Inspectors could only rely on satellite images, as they do not have direct access to the nation

According to reports, since 2006, there were five nuclear tests from North Korea. The most recent one was back in 2017, when the United Nations Security Council asked the country to stop the nuclear program completely, in an irreversible and verifiable manner.

However, the recent report from the IAEA has shown that Kim Jong Un’s regime did not follow the instructions given by the U.S. Security Council.

Inspectors and the IAEA do not have direct access to North Korea to closely track the country. They only depend on commercial satellite images in order to make assessments. 

It can be noted that back in 2019, during the summit in Vietnam with former President Trump, Kim Jong Un proposed to stop Yongbyon nuclear plant in exchange for release from a wide range of international sanctions over ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.  

Yet, now that Trump is not in office anymore, it seems as if Kim has restated their nuclear plant.  A senior official from the Biden administration noted that the recent report is “disturbing.”

The anonymous Biden official was likewise quoted as saying that the movements in North Korea highlight the need for dialogue, as well as diplomacy in order to achieve complete denuclearization within the Korean Peninsula.