Satellite images show North Koreal try to restart nuclear complex
Seoul: Satellite imagery suggests North Korea is making wide-ranging, extensive efforts to fully reactivate its main nuclear complex, a US think tank said on Tuesday, in line with Pyongyang’s vows to strengthen its weapons programme.
The isolated communist state staged its third nuclear test in February – it’s most powerful to date – after two previous tests in 2006 and 2009. Two months later, it boasted that it would reopen the Yongbyon nuclear compound in the northwest that had been shut since 2007, in order to bolster its atomic arsenal.
A nearby venue that appears to be a dumping site showed a large amount of “grey materials” suspected to be ash from the fuel rod production process, he added.
“The identification of these facilities indicates a more wide-ranging, extensive effort by North Korea to modernize and restart the Yongbyon complex… than previously understood,” he wrote.
Pyongyang’s current stockpile of nuclear materials – mostly plutonium – is variously estimated as being enough for six to 10 bombs.
The shock execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s powerful uncle two weeks ago raised concerns over potential instability in the North or military provocations such as an atomic test aimed at rallying domestic unity.
South Korean defence and intelligence chiefs however ruled out the possibility of imminent atomic test despite continued preparations.
Nam Jae-Joon, chief of the South’s intelligence agency, told lawmakers yesterday that the North was capable of staging another atomic test anytime but had so far showed no signs of doing so.
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