No proof of N. Korea nuclear plant relaunch, if true catastrophe may ensue - reports
To see more information click on the advertisment below: This file satellite image taken on August 6, 2012 and provided by GeoEye on August 22, 2012 shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre in North Korea. (AFP/GeoEye)
The re-launch of North Korea’s Yonben nuclear reactor may lead to a catastrophe due to the poor state of its technical infrastructure, according to a source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
“We’re primarily concerned with quite possible technogenic [technology-caused] consequences. The reactor of 1950s design is in a horrible condition,” a source told Interfax.
A number of indirect indicators suggest that certain works are being conducted at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center in North Korea, but Russia has no proof that the reactor of the facility has been restarted, the source said.
"It is obvious that some work has been done there, and it has been done for quite a long time. Some indirect signs did indicate that the matter was about a relaunch," the source said.
"But we don't have information that the reactor has been launched," he added.
After analyzing satellite imagery taken on August 31, 2013, US analysts from the Institute at Johns Hopkins University tend to believe that white steam coming out of a building next to the five-megawatt plutonium reactor at Yongbyon indicate that the reactor has been restarted.
The source in the Russian Foreign Ministry believes this could be a simple “generator check-up” without the reactor actually running.
“It is obvious that some work has been done there, and it has been done for quite a long time. Some indirect signs did indicate that the matter was about a relaunch,” the source said.
Nobody knows exactly the engineering status of the object in Yonben that stopped operation in 2007, so in case of a technogenic catastrophe the consequences for the Korean Peninsula could be dire, the source said.
The UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that it is closely following reports about the Yongbyon nuclear complex, but said it lacked a “clear understanding" of the situation there.
“As we don't have inspectors there, we don't have anything for sure,” said Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has not commented on the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, citing the confidential nature of its information.
The news about North Korean reactor comes at the time when the American and Chinese diplomats have returned to negotiation table for talks to put an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
On Wednesday, Glyn Davies, the US special representative on North Korea policy paid a visit to Beijing where he met with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and discussed North Korea's nuclear military program.