- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2013

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said Thursday that North Korea seems to have jumpstarted operations at a key nuclear plant, Yongbyon, to possibly produce weapons-grade plutonium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency found, The Hill reported: “Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor.” The IAEA’s director general, Yukiya Amano, also said that the agency couldn’t conclusively say the country had ramped its reactor activities, unless inspectors were granted direct access to the site.

But by all appearances, he continued, operations are back in swing.


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IAEA inspectors were booted in 2009 from North Korea. They’ve still kept abreast of the country’s nuclear development operations — albeit from a distance, via satellite, The Hill reported.

Thursday’s announcement comes on the heels of similar claims made by the United States and South Korea — that Western authorities and allied nations have proof of the North pushing forward with plans to restart the facility, The Hill reported.

North Korea angered international officials by announcing in April its plans to restart its Yongbyon nuclear site reactor. That plant had been dismantled, in part, in 2008 as a means of opening peaceful discussions with China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

North Korea also set the international community on edge in recent years by conducting three separate nuclear tests.