N. Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor appears to be back in operation: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its annual report that it was concerned after indications emerged of a plutonium-producing reactor at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex since early July, particularly the discharge of cooling water that could mean the nuclear reactor being operational.

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This suggests that Boeing Yang is continuing its nuclear development program in violation of international resolutions. According to fao's annual report, the Yongbyon reactor appears to have been at a standstill since early December 2018. He was a prominent point of contention in the failed negotiations that brought north Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump together in Hanoi in 2019.

North Korea may have restarted a plutonium-producing reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, expressing concern.

"Since the beginning of July, there have been indications, particularly the discharge of cooling water, in line with the operation of the reactor," the agency said in its annual report.

The report, dated Friday, said the reactor at Yongbyon appears to have been in power since early December 2018.

The reintroduction of the 5-megawatt reactor may indicate that Boeing Yang is continuing its nuclear development program in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Suspicions about restarting the reactor follow recent information that Boeing Yang is also using a laboratory near the complex to separate plutonium from the fuel used by the reactor.

The fate of the nuclear complex was one of the points of contention at the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump, which failed in 2019 in Hanoi.


North Korea has proposed dismantling part of the Yongbyon complex without its other nuclear facilities in exchange for a "partial" lifting of economic sanctions. However, Washington rejected the offer and subsequently suspended negotiations between the two countries.

The North Korean regime is subject to several international sanctions for its military programs, particularly nuclear weapons. These programs have developed significantly under Kim Jong Un.

IAEA experts were expelled from North Korea in 2009 and the IAEA has since monitored North Korea's activities from abroad.

The agency said the indications of the operation of the reactor and laboratory were "very exciting" adding that the activities constituted a "clear violation" of UN resolutions. The Yongbyon complex may not be the only uranium enrichment facility in the country and its closure does not mean the end of the country's nuclear program.

The Yongbyon nuclear complex, about 100 kilometers (100 miles) north of Boeing Yang, houses dozens of buildings linked to North Korea's nuclear program.

The complex was opened in 1986 and the first North Korean reactor was built and is the only known plutonium exporter in North Korea.

N. Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor appears to be back in operation: IAEA

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