IAEA fears restart of nuclear reactor

Revealed in a report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the possible restart by North Korea of ​​its reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex and the relaunch of uranium enrichment activities give rise to divergent interpretations. Some analysts see it as a call from the foot to Washingon to resume negotiations, today at an impasse. Others consider that Pyongyang simply wants to continue its nuclear development.

“Since the beginning of July 2021, there have been signals, in particular the rejection of water from cooling, compatible with the operation of the reactor”, indicated the report submitted Friday, August 27 to the Board of Governors of the UN agency. Built in the Yongbyon complex, a hundred kilometers north of Pyongyang, this 5 megawatt reactor, which entered service in 1986, enables North Korea to produce plutonium for military use.

“There was no indication that the reactor was operating between early December 2018 and early July”, specifies the IAEA, which also mentions activities at the Kangson complex, located in the port city of Nampo (west of Pyongyang), which would house a uranium enrichment site, as well as at the uranium mine from Pyongsan (south of the country).

Stalled negotiations

“This report highlights the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy so that we can achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” reacted White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. We continue to seek dialogue with North Korea so that we can address this reported activity and the full range of denuclearization issues. “ Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since the failure of the Hanoi summit in Vietnam in February 2019 between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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Pyongyang had offered to dismantle “Completely and definitively” its fissile material production facilities at the Yongbyon complex. In return, Washington was to lift some of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council following its missile attacks and nuclear tests, the last of which was in September 2017, and which are severely affecting the North Korean economy. . But the United States, determined to obtain a denuclearization “Complete, definitive and verifiable”, demanded more, including the destruction of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles. The summit collapsed and discussions were interrupted.

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