05/17/2012, 00.00
KOREA - JAPAN - UNITED STATES
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Yongbyon: North Korean regime "resumes work" on nuclear reactor

Revealed by a Korean-American research center, after analyzing images taken by satellite in late April. Fears for a new nuclear test. However, scientists warn that "the structure will not be operational before 2014 or 2015." Three way talks next week between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Pyongyang has "resumed work" on building a light water reactor, which could be used for the development of the North Korean nuclear program after "months of inactivity." This is shown by new satellite images taken on April 30 and published in recent days by a U.S. research center, the construction site is within the Yongbyon site, in the western province of North Pyongan. Meanwhile, three way talks are due to be held next week between the United States, South Korea and Japan to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue and the failed launch last April 13. The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 21 in Seoul and will address rumors about a possible - new - atomic test or skirmishes along the border.

From the images taken on April 30, analyzed by experts in a joint U.S. and Korean Institute at Johns Hopkins University, reveal signs of "progress" in construction which feeds fears of a new nuclear test by the regime in Pyongyang, although analysts add that the reactor is still very far from being operational.

However, scientists continue that the construction of reactor units for uranium enrichment is an "important signal" of North Korea's intention to pursue "the expansion of its atomic weapons stockpile for the future." It should be added that, according to information gathered to date, the infrastructure will not be operational before 2014 or 2015 because they " heavy equipment, including a turbine generator have yet to be installed."

Pyongyang, whose nuclear program is based on plutonium, warns that it could carry out a new nuclear test. In 2009 Pyongyang launched over 10 rockets and carried out a nuclear test, ignoring international pressure. In response, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions by unanimous vote, even with the backing of Russia and China. The communist regime spends much of the annual budget on weapons and its military - the largest in the world in proportion to the population - while the rest of North Koreans suffer from hunger and the country - which depends on foreign aid - is subject to cyclic episodes of famine.

 

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