Seoul, South Korea | According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), North Korea appears to have restarted its plutonium-producing reactor at the Angbion nuclear complex.
“Since the beginning of July, there have been signs, including cooling water, favorable to the operation of the reactor,” the IAEA said in its annual report.
The Yongbian reactor has been closed since early December 2018, according to a report on Friday.
Restarting the reactor with a capacity of five megawatts means that Pyongyang is continuing its nuclear development program in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The future of the nuclear complex is one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s second summit with US President Donald Trump, which ended in failure in Hanoi in 2019.
Instead of lifting economic sanctions “partially”, North Korea has offered to demolish part of the Yongbian complex. The offer was rejected by Washington and negotiations between the two countries stalled.
The solitary regime is subject to a number of international sanctions for its prohibited nuclear, prohibition and its military activities, which developed significantly during the Kim Jong-un regime.
IAEA experts were deported from North Korea in 2009 and the agency has been overseeing the country’s operations abroad since then.
The re-launch of this reactor follows the latest information that a radiochemical laboratory near Pyongyang is also being used to separate plutonium from the fuel spent from the reactor.
The IAEA said the signals of the reactor and laboratory operations were “of grave concern” and that these activities were a “clear violation” of UN resolutions.
A senior U.S. State Department official told AFP that the report “emphasizes the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy to achieve full nuclear disarmament of the Korean Peninsula.”
“We are in talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Last week, U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Sung Kim reiterated his willingness to meet his North Korean rivals “anywhere, anytime.”
North Korea’s nuclear complex Yongbyon, hundreds of kilometers north of Pyongyang, has dozens of buildings related to the North Korean nuclear program.
Launched in 1986, North Korea’s first reactor was built here, the only source of plutonium known to North Korea.
Yangbian is not the only uranium enrichment facility in the country, however, its closure will not end the country’s nuclear program.