N Korea vows to restart N-facilities
Seoul (AP): North Korea vowed on Tuesday to restart a nuclear reactor that can make one bomb's worth of plutonium a year, escalating tensions already...
Seoul (AP): North Korea vowed on Tuesday to restart a nuclear reactor that can make one bomb's worth of plutonium a year, escalating tensions already raised by near daily warlike threats against the United States and South Korea. The North's plutonium reactor was shut down in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled. The declaration of a resumption of plutonium production the most common fuel in nuclear weapons and other facilities at the main Nyongbyon nuclear complex will boost fears in Washington and among its allies about North Korea's timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, technology it is not currently believed to have. A spokesman for the North's General Department of Atomic Energy said that scientists will begin work at a uranium enrichment plant and a graphite-moderated 5 megawatt reactor, which generates spent fuel rods laced with plutonium and is the core of the Nyongbyon nuclear complex. Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting a new round of UN sanctions that have infuriated its leaders and led to a torrent of threatening rhetoric. The United States has sent nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets to participate in annual South Korean-US military drills that the allies call routine but that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparations. North Korea added the 5-megawatt, graphite-moderated reactor to its nuclear complex at Nyongbyon in 1986 after seven years of construction. The country began building a 50-megawatt and a 200 megawatt reactor in 1984, but construction was suspended under a 1994 nuclear deal with Washington. North Korea says that the facility is aimed at generating electricity. It takes about 8,000 fuel rods to run the reactor. Reprocessing the spent fuel rods after a year of reactor operation could yield about 7 kilograms of plutonium, enough to make at least one nuclear bomb, experts say. US moves warships closer to N Korean coast Washington (PTI): Amid raging tension in the Korean peninsula, the US is moving some of its key military assets, including a warship and a sea-based radar platform, closer to the North Korean coast to monitor Pyongyang's military moves. The decision to move destroyer USS John S McCain and the oil rig-like SBX-1 are the first of what may be other naval deployments, according to the CNN. "I would urge everyone to disconnect this ship deployment from recent military exercises in South Korea. We have regular ship movements in the Asia Pacific region and we use our ship movements for any number of purposes. So I'd be very careful about connecting this to recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. The moves come following a joint military exercise with South Korea, which included over flights by nuclear-capable B- 2 stealth bombers, and B-52s and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters. "We are concerned about any miscalculation. It is our goal very clearly to avoid miscalculation and risk. We want to choose the path of peace and stability on the peninsula. The North Koreans recently have engaged in a series of provocations, both in words and in actions," he said.
28 Jan 2020 7:28 PM GMT