FILE – In this June 27, 2008 file photo from television, the 60-foot-tall cooling tower is seen before its demolition at the main Nyongbyon reactor complex in Nyongbyon, also known as Yongbyon, North Korea. North Korea vowed Tuesday, April 2, 2013, to restart a nuclear reactor that can make one bomb’s worth of plutonium a year, escalating tensions already raised by near daily warlike threats against the United States and South Korea. The North’s plutonium reactor was shut down in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled. The declaration of a resumption of plutonium production — the most common fuel in nuclear weapons — and other facilities at the main Nyongbyon nuclear complex will boost fears in Washington and among its allies about North Korea’s timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, technology it is not currently believed to have. (AP Photo/APTN, File)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said it will restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material, in what outsiders see as its latest attempt to extract U.S. concessions by raising fears of war.
A spokesman for the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy said scientists will quickly begin “readjusting and restarting” the facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex, including the plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
The reactor began operations in 1986 but was shut down as part of international nuclear disarmament talks in 2007 that have since stalled. North Korea said Tuesday that work to restart the facilities would begin “without delay.” Experts estimate reactivating the reactor could take anywhere from three months to a year.
The nuclear vows and a rising tide of threats in recent weeks are seen as efforts by the North to force disarmament-for-aid talks with Washington and to increase domestic loyalty to young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by portraying him as a powerful military commander.
Tuesday’s announcement underscores concerns about North Korea’s timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, although it is still believed to be years away from developing that technology.
The U.S. called for North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Login to read more