The international agency called the recent nuclear activity "deeply worrying". Pyongyang criticized the joint operations between Seoul and Washington. South Korea and the U.S. last week discussed humanitarian assistance for North Korea to get it to return to dialogue.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - North Korea has reportedly restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, according to a report issued today by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), calling Pyongyang's activity "deeply troubling." The assessments are based on satellite imagery since North Korea expelled IEA observers in 2009.
The report claims the complex has been releasing cooling water since July, which would indicate that the plant is operational. In addition, the steam plant connected to the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor was in operation from mid-February to mid-July of this year.
The last time the Yongbyon complex had shown signs of activity was in December 2018, after U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
South Korea's foreign ministry told Yonhap news agency that Seoul is "monitoring the North's nuclear and missile activities in close cooperation with the United States." In recent days, North Korea had commented negatively on the joint exercises between Seoul and Washington, calling them "the most vivid expression of hostile U.S. policy" and denouncing a "serious security crisis." Since Aug. 10, North Korea has not responded to calls from the South about summer exercises with U.S. forces.
Last week, in his trip to Seoul, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim had declared that Washington has no hostile intent toward Pyongyang, renewing his offer to "meet with North Korean counterparts anywhere, anytime." During the Aug. 23 talks, Sung Kim had discussed with South Korea the possibilities of humanitarian assistance to the North to encourage the North Koreans to return to dialogue.