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North Korea nuclear reactor restarted : US confirms
North Korea nuclear reactor restarted

North Korea nuclear reactor restarted : US confirms

The Associated Press reported this week that U.S. intelligence has evidence that North Korea is expanding its nuclear program. According to the report, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper believes that North Korea has expanded its uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that was shut down in 2007. The report appeared in Clapper’s written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee about national security threats to the United States.

“We have long assessed that, in Pyongyang’s view, its nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige and coercive diplomacy,” Clapper stated in prepared comments. “We do not know Pyongyang’s nuclear doctrine or employment concepts.”

Surveillance images of Yongbyon from last summer showed steam rising from a facility near North Korea’s graphite-moderated reactor, suggesting the plutonium site had relaunched, according to a September analysis by the expert website “38 North.”

The likely expansion of North Korea’s uranium-centrifuge plant came to light in an August analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, a think tank in Washington. The organization pointed to further activity near the site in a December report, but said the objectives of the work could not “conclusively be identified.”

Separately, Clapper called attention to North Korea’s focus on “developing long-range missile technology that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States.”

Pyongyang appears to have “already taken initial steps” to deploy its KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile, though the weapon “remains untested,” he said in the report.

In an October analysis of satellite photos, independent experts said North Korea’s Dongchang-ri missile complex appeared to be hosting construction of a new mobile-missile launch pad capable of test-firing the KN-08.

Clapper said North Korea has “displayed” the weapon on two occasions. Independent observers, though, judge past showings of the weapon to have involved replicas of growing sophistication.


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