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North Korea “Operating the Nuclear Reactor in Yongbyon”

North Korea “Operating the Nuclear Reactor in Yongbyon”

Posted October. 03, 2003 23:03,   


North Korea’s government-operated Chosun Central Broadcasting reported on October 3, “North Korea is now operating the 5MW nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, Pyong-an-buk-do, making peaceful use of nuclear facilities.” It also reported, “We have successfully finished reprocessing 8,000 plutonium-laden spent fuel rods in late June. We have found solutions for technological problems involving the usage change of plutonium to strengthen the nuclear deterrent. North Korea had already spoken of the issue on October 2 through the spokesperson’s speech saying, “We have completed reprocessing. The Broadcasting also reported, “We are ready to reprocess plutonium-laden spent fuel rods as they will come out from the 5MW-scaled nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. Reprocessing facilities are all set up to operate again whenever needed.”

Our government understands that North Korea has operated the 5MW reactor since February. This reactor can produce five to six kilograms of plutonium to build one atomic bomb not including the sufficient amount of plutonium to build three or four bombs from the 8,000 plutonium-laden spent fuel rods. North Korea had frozen the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon according to the Geneva Convention with the U.S. in October, 1994 but has removed the seal of the nuclear reactor in December last year and have repaired the facilities. There are 50MW and 200MW nuclear reactors whose constructions were interrupted aside from the 5MW one in Yongbyon.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com