North Korea Plans to Bring Old Nuclear Reactor Back to Life, Says It's a "Deterrent"
April 2, 2013 11:02 AM
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The reactor has been closed since 2007
North Korea has decided to restart an old nuclear reactor for both electricity and military purposes.
The country wants to reactivate a nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear plant. The 5MW reactor is aged (from the Soviet era) and has been closed since 2007. It shut down due to one of its cooling towers blowing up.
According to North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, this isn't necessarily an effort to create a confrontation with the United States. Rather, the nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to ensure North Korea's safety.
"Our nuclear strength is a reliable war deterrent and a guarantee to protect our sovereignty," Kim said. "It is on the basis of a strong nuclear strength that peace and prosperity can exist and so can the happiness of people's lives."
It's unclear whether North Korea's grid is even connected to the nuclear plant for electricity purposes.
This news comes at a very sensitive time, as North Korea's
threatened to nuke the U.S.
last month amid tensions between the countries.
"Since the United States is about to ignite a nuclear war, we will be exercising our right to preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor in order to protect our supreme interest,"it said at the time.
China has grown tired of North Korea's behavior as well, and even
imposed harsh sanctions on the country. Under the new sanctions, China and others who trade with North Korea can no longer define what a luxury item is -- meaning that many items such as yachts, luxury automobiles, and certain jewelry are now banned.
China was hoping to start denuclearization talks with North Korea soon, but with this recent news, it looks like that effort may not make any progress. A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing made note that China is against North Korea restarting the nuclear reactor.
North Korea has been conducting
over the years, which the UN has frowned on. T
he first North Korean nuclear test in 2006 was under 1 kiloton and the second in 2009 was about 2-7 kilotons. The third, which occurred this past February,
measured "approximately several kilotons."
It's unclear how long it will take to restart the nuclear reactor.
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4/2/2013 11:32:21 AM
The reactor was shut down in July 2007 as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal; the cooling tower was dismantled in 2008. IAEA inspectors were banned in April 2009 when North Korea pulled out of disarmament talks. Experts believe that, if re-started, reactor could make one bomb's worth of plutonium per year. It might take up to a year to restore full functionality.
"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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