A high-ranking intelligence official of the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) raised great concerns over North Korea's movements to reprocess nuclear fuel, saying that the USINDOPACOM keeps a close eye on any possibility of provocations.
Rear Adm. Michael Studeman, the director for intelligence of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, on Tuesday mentioned North Korea's recent signs of nuclear reprocessing in a speech at an event organized by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association or a non-profit organization, according to Reuters. He said that the U.S. is severely concerned about Pyongyang's recent moves with a close eye kept on it. Referring to a statement made recently by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), he pointed out that if it is true that North Korea has recently made developments in nuclear reprocessing as set forth in the statement, this will elevate tensions with Pyongyang this year.
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi issued a statement on Monday that North Korea's nuclear enrichment sites in Yongbyon and Kangson showed movements for operation. He said in this year's first regular board of directors that some signs indicate that Pyongyang demonstrated internal movements including a cooling facility test performed on a testing light-water reactor around the end of last year. Additionally, it showed signs of operating a steam power station in a radiochemical laboratory, according to the IAEA director genera
Rear Adm. Michael Studeman saw Pyongyang's preparations for nuclear reprocessing as its first step taken to show influence over the Biden administration and get its attention. As per his analysis, North Korea may use the issue of nuclear reprocessing as a bargaining chip to lead to the lessening of North Korea sanctions.
The U.S. State Department commented on the IAEA's report, saying that North Korea's illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its stubbornness of spreading cutting-edge technologies pose a severe threat to international peace and security and weaken the globally agreed non-proliferation system. The U.S. administration will adopt an effective option in cooperation with its allies and partners to assess the gravity of North Korean threats and respond accordingly, the U.S. State Department's spokesperson team told VOA on Tuesday.