North Korea is believed to have recently restarted a nuclear reactor, according to the United Nations’ atomic watchdog, The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The particular reactor in question is believed to have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons, Reuters reported Sunday. The IAEA has been restricted from entering North Korea since the country expelled the groups’ inspectors in 2009. The IAEA monitors and observes North Korea from afar through satellite imagery, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Mysterious Green Spot On Kim Jong Un’s Head Sparks More Debate About His Health)
“There were no indications of reactor operation from early December 2018 to the beginning of July 2021,” the IAEA said in their annual report. “However, since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor.”
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The report identified the reactor at Yongbyon which is a 5-megawatt reactor and at the center of their nuclear program, Reuters reported. IAEA issues such a report each year before it meets with its member states, according to Reuters.
The most recent report said that there were indications in June that the Yongbyon reactor was being used to separate plutonium and processed so that it could be used in nuclear weapons, Reuters reported. A full batch of fuel is suspected of being processed given the five-month duration of the work IAEA noticed, according to Reuters.
“The new indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor and the Radiochemical (reprocessing) Laboratory are deeply troubling, the IAEA report said.