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IAEA Concerned that North Korea Appears to Be Operating its Plutonium Producing Reactor

Satellite image of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center captured on June 21, showing a new cooling water pump house built for its nuclear reactor. (Airbus Defense and Space/38 North)
Satellite image of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center captured on June 21, showing a new cooling water pump house built for its nuclear reactor. (Airbus Defense and Space/38 North)

North Korea appears to have resumed operation of its five-megawatt electric reactor that was used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said there are indications of the reactor operating at the Yongbyon site and “intermittent activity” at the radiochemical laboratory.

Grossi’s speech to the Board of Governors follows the IAEA report [pdf] on Sept. 7, which stated that North Korea may have been expanding key facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

“We have observed indications that the reported centrifuge enrichment facility at Yongbyon continues to operate and is now externally complete, expanding the building’s available floor space by approximately one-third,” he said.

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