US institute sees more proof of NK reactor restart
AFPWASHINGTON--North Korea has clearly restarted an aging plutonium reactor that would help it boost its nuclear weapons program, a U.S. think tank said Wednesday after analyzing new imagery.
October 4, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, which last month reported signs that the Yongbyon reactor had resumed operation, said that more conclusive evidence emerged in the latest image.
A commercial satellite picture taken on Sept. 19 showed the plutonium reactor releasing hot wastewater into a river through a new drainpipe.
The dumping of the water “provides further evidence that Pyongyang has restarted its five-megawatt reactor,” analyst Nick Hansen wrote on the institute's blog, 38 North.
A picture from late July had not shown any sign of hot water discharge, indicating a recent relaunch.
In reports released last month, the institute and another Washington think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, had observed steam coming from the reactor.
The drainpipe is critical to maintaining a safe temperature at the reactor as North Korea knocked down a cooling tower in 2008 to show its commitment to a U.S.-backed aid-for-disarmament deal.