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North Korea Preparing for the Reactivation of Frozen Nuclear Reactor

North Korea Preparing for the Reactivation of Frozen Nuclear Reactor

Posted December. 25, 2002 22:49,   


As North Korea on Dec. 24 finalized its actions to remove seals and monitoring cameras from its radiochemical laboratory, nuclear reprocessing facility, and nuclear fuel rod producing facility, it has been known that Pyongyang is highly likely to take follow-up measures, including the reactivation of a 5-megawatt frozen nuclear facility in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang.

A government official said on Dec. 25, “After removing seals from its 5-megawatt nuclear reactor, a couple of North Korean engineers have been going in and out there. In addition, although the North has not reloaded fuel rods yet to reactivate the nuclear reactor, we cannot rule out the possibility it may do so soon or later.”

“We`re not in a position to make an exact judgment because we don`t know about the North`s preparation for the reactivation of the facility. However, it may take Pyongyang one to two months to reactivate the 5-megawatt reactor,” he added. In case of the reactivation of the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor in Pyongyang, it means the development concerning the nuclear threat posed by the communist country is entering a new phase of turning into a head-on collision with the international community with the North taking a further step beyond of its unsealing process.

It has been known that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) temporarily increased its standby inspectors, who have been stationed in the North to monitor Pyongyang`s nuclear activities, to 3 from the current 2 after the North had begun removing seals from its nuclear facilities.

A government official said, “At this moment, three inspectors from the IAEA are closely watching on the idled nuclear facility to check whether any specific move has been done to the facility. Until now, the North is not interrupting the inspectors` activities there.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to convene a foreign and security relevant ministers` meeting presides over by President Kim Dae-jung on Dec. 26 to draw up concerted measures to deal with the North Koran nuclear issue.

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com