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  • » 08/22/2012, 00.00

    NORTH KOREA

    Construction of Yongbyon nuclear reactor leaps forward



    Satellite images show a new dome on the nuclear reactor, which had been a year in the making. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un might visit Iran to take part in a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

    Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - North Korea has completed a critical step in building a new nuclear reactor. Recent satellite images analysed by experts said that North Korean experts have been able to place a dome on a light water reactor at Yongbyon, said Allison Puccioni of Jane's Defence Weekly. But it may take several more years before the site is fully operational.

    The international community has been critical of this new reactor and of Pyongyang's nuclear tests since 2008. Pushed by the late Kim Jong-il, Pyongyang's nuclear programme has led the United States and South Korea to end humanitarian aid to the Communist nation, already reeling from famine, floods and policies of economic autarchy that are inappropriate for the country.

    For North Korea's Stalinist leaders, the new nuclear reactor has civilian purposes. South Korean intelligence sources believe however it can produce highly enriched uranium for weapons.

    At present, ''The emplacement of the dome is a significant development,'' Puccioni said. Now the reactor could be used to produce plutonium or be converted for the purpose of enriching uranium, which is needed to make nuclear weapons.

    These developments appear to confirm that North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un plans to stay the militarist course set by his father.

    Meanwhile, there are reports that Kim may visit Iran on Sunday for the Non-Aligned Movement summit. Although the visit has not been confirmed, if it did take place it would be a strong message for China, North Korea's only big power friend.

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    See also

    20/07/2007 CHINA – NORTH KOREA – UNITED N
    No agreement on North Korea’s nuclear programme
    Six-nation talks fail to deliver agreement on deadline. New meeting set for September to iron out “technical details.” Washington and Pyongyang still playing tough.

    27/06/2008 NORTH KOREA
    Pyongyang gives in and destroys “atomic” tower
    The cooling tower of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor was blown up live in front of the world’s cameras. It was here that North Korea staged its first nuclear test in October 2006. The event marks the success of US and Chinese diplomacies although it is still not certain that Pyongyang will be off the US “rogue” state list.

    18/07/2007 NORTH KOREA - UN
    Pyongyang shuts down another 4 nuclear reactors
    North Korea has shut all five reactors in the Yongbyon power plant. In the coming days the “second phase” in six party talks opens in Beijing, but analysts express caution over a definitive abandonment of the atomic project.

    16/07/2007 NORTH KOREA - USA
    IAEA confirms the closure of Yongbyon
    The agency’s director general speaks of a “first step in the right direction”, revealing however, that there is still much to be done. A second shipment of oil, provided for in the North Korean denuclearization deal, leaves Seoul.

    11/04/2007 NORTH KOREA - USA
    Pyongyang’s Macau accounts unblocked in anticipation of nuclear shut down
    The US negotiator to North Korea announces 25 million dollars, blocked in Macau accounts since 2005 are now available, and invites the Stalinist regime to push ahead with shutting down its nuclear reactors. China and South Korea align themselves with Washington while AsiaNews sources in Korea express their doubts about the peninsula’s will to denuclearize



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    John Baptist Lin

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