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North Korea completed nuclear reprocessing

Posted July. 13, 2003 22:08,   


It was known on July 12 that North Korea notified the U.S. that the former completed reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods at its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

According to an NBC report on July 11, krypton-85, a radioactive material which is generated when spent fuel rods are reprocessed, was detected from air surveillance photos which the U.S. took near the Yongbyon facilities.

North claims to have completed nuclear reprocessing

According to diplomatic sources in the U.S. and South Korea, the North made clear its nuclear ambition at an informal meeting with the U.S. in New York on July 8, announcing that “8,000 spent fuel rods were completely reprocessed on June 30 and this (plutonium) will be necessarily used as a war deterrent.“

Claiming that a 5MW nuclear reactor at Yongbyon was in operation and plutonium would be extracted further from reprocessing fuel rods, the Communist regime was reported to have resumed suspended construction of a 50MW reactor at Yongbyon and a 200MW reactor at Taecheon.

In addition, the Northern regime is said to have demanded that instead of indirect contacts through China, it would only recognize direct contacts through a New York channel as an official contact, and that a bilateral meeting between the North and the U.S. must precede any multilateral contacts, which the North doesn’t oppose.

At the New York meeting, the U.S. was represented by Jack Pritchard, State Department special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, and David S., manager in charge of Korea issues, while North Korea`s U.N. Ambassador Pak Gil Yon and his vice-ambassador, Han Sung Ryul, represented North Korea.

It was the first time the North announced a specific date for the completion of nuclear reprocessing since October last year, when the Stalinist regime acknowledged its nuclear development plans. Since then, the North has issued vague claims on several occasions that reprocessing of spent fuel rods was in the final stages.

The U.S. administration notified South Korean and Japanese governments that the North was believed to have already reprocessed hundreds of fuel rods.

Evidence for nuclear reprocessing found

NBC’s report quoted an official of the U.S. administration that krypton-85 was detected from air, which a U.S. reconnaissance planes collected in the airspace near the Yongbyon nuclear facilities.

NBC reported that this was the first solid evidence of the North`s reprocessing and presented to the White House.

In the meantime, the South Korean government said in a press release by Shin Bong-guil, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “The [South] Korean government is not in a position to comment on the bilateral meeting between the U.S. and North Korea.“ It also added, “Although we have worked closely with the U.S. for information exchanges, our basic principle is that we do not examine the information at the government level.”