“Since early July, there have been signs, including cold water leaks that are consistent with the reactor’s operation,” the IAEA said in its annual report.
Violations of resolutions
Reactor De Yongbion has been at a standstill since early December 2018, the date was reported on Friday. The reopening of the five-megawatt reactor means that Pyongyang’s nuclear development program continues in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The future of the nuclear complex was one of the contentious issues at the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, which failed in Hanoi in 2019.
Instead of lifting the embargo “partially”, North Korea has promised to demolish part of the Yongbyon complex, but not its other nuclear-producing infrastructure. Washington turned down the offer, as talks between the two countries stalled. During Kim Jong Un’s rule, the isolated regime was subjected to numerous international sanctions for military action, including nuclear weapons, which advanced significantly.
A radiochemical laboratory
The reopening of the reactor is possible following recent information that a nearby radiochemical laboratory is also using Pyongyang to separate plutonium from the fuel spent on the reactor. The signs of the reactor and laboratory work are “very disturbing,” the IAEA said, adding that these activities are a “clear violation” of UN resolutions.
The North Korean nuclear complex in Yongbyon, located 100 km north of Pyongyang, includes dozens of buildings related to the North Korean nuclear program. North Korea’s first reactor was built here, which opened in 1986, and is North Korea’s only source of plutonium. Yongbyon may not be the only uranium enrichment center in the country, but its closure does not mean the end of the country’s nuclear program.
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