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North Korea Intends to Bring Nuclear Complex Back Online
Posted on Apr 2, 2013
North Korea on Tuesday announced plans to restart its main atomic complex in order to ease electricity problems and strengthen its ability to develop nuclear weapons. The news will no doubt increase tensions in the region.
The Yongbyon reactor was closed in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since faltered.
U.N. Secretary-General and former South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that North Korea had “gone too far” on a path that could lead to war with other nations.
“Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability,” he said during a visit to Andorra. “Things must calm down as this situation, made worse by the lack of communication, could lead down a path that nobody should want to follow.”
“I am convinced that nobody intends to attack [North Korea] … however, I am afraid that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation.”
China, North Korea’s only major ally, called plans to bring the complex back online “regrettable,” while Japan said they prompted “grave concern.”
The Yongbyon reactor went online in 1986. The country began building two more reactors in 1984, but their construction was stopped in accord with a 1994 nuclear deal with Washington.
North Korea has long insisted its reactor operation is aimed at generating electricity. Roughly 8,000 fuel rods are required to run the reactor. Reprocessing the used rods after a year of operation could produce about 7kg of plutonium, enough to make at least one atomic bomb, experts say.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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