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S. Korea to Respond `Flexibly` to Latest NK Provocation

Posted April. 27, 2009 04:23,   


The government said yesterday that it will respond carefully and flexibly to North Korea’s move to reprocess spent fuel rods stored at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

An official at Seoul’s presidential office said, “North Korea took another step in turning its words into action, but we don’t think a response is needed since it was expected.”

The international community including the U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions on the North, apparently angering Pyongyang into taking more provocative action.

"The reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot nuclear power plant began as declared by the Foreign Ministry statement dated April 14," a spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry told the North’s official Korean Central News Agency Saturday.

“The reprocessing of the spent fuel rods will contribute to the boosting of nuclear deterrence for our self-defense in every way to cope with mounting military threats from hostile forces,” he added, hinting at the use of plutonium generated from the reprocessed fuel in nuclear weapon production.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted April 14 a president’s resolution blasting the North’s missile launch nine days before.

In response, Pyongyang issued a threat saying, “We’ll take steps to restore our nuclear facilities and resume normal operations. As part of the efforts, spent fuel rods from pilot nuclear facilities will be reprocessed cleanly.”

The North will likely need several months to resume operations at Yongbyon, its main nuclear facility that it had been dismantling. Hence, analysts say Pyongyang has apparently decided to focus on the reprocessing of spent fuel rods in stockpile to extract plutonium.