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North Korea Plans to “Resume the Construction of Graphite Reactors”

North Korea Plans to “Resume the Construction of Graphite Reactors”

Posted December. 21, 2005 03:00,   


In response to the U.S. financial sanction, North Korea unveiled its plan to resume the construction of its 50 MW and 200 MW graphite-moderated reactors in Yongbyon and Taechon in North Pyongan Province.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency reported on its December 19 edition, “We will actively develop the 50 MW and 200 MW graphite reactors and an independent nuclear-powered industry based on relevant facilities and step up our efforts for peaceful use of nuclear power by building light water reactors with our own technology.”

“Washington agreed to discuss and resolve the issue of financial sanction in the fifth round of the six-party talks but denies it,” the news agency said and called to “stop the childish play such as the financial sanction.”

This response is interpreted as a backlash against the U.S. position that it will disclose Pyongyang’s money counterfeiting and address the financial sanction against the North and the resumption of the six-way talks separately.

The 50 MW graphite-moderated reactor in Yongbyon cannot be used as a bargaining chip against the U.S. since it is already in operation. That is why the North has set out to build the two graphite-moderated reactors which had been suspended with the Geneva Agreement in October 1994. Plutonium, the material for nuclear weapons, can be produced in graphite reactors.

However, it is unlikely that the North will restart the construction of the graphite reactors immediately given that the detailed coverage of Pyongyang’s central news service is less authoritative than the official statement by the North’s Foreign Ministry or the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

A government official gave his analysis, saying, “The North has sent up an ad-balloon to spy on the U.S. reaction.”

The Korean Central News Agency, under the immediate control of the Cabinet, has been working as a window for placing pressure on the U.S. over the nuclear issue or expressing its position to the international community.

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com