The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) denounced that the nuclear plant in Yongbyon, North Korea, used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, registers activity since July 2021.
“Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation,” the UN agency’s annual report said.
The 5-megawatt Yongbyon nuclear plant is capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
The nuclear reactor had been inactive since December 2018.
In 2019 during a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between former President Donald J. Trump and Korean leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea offered to shut down the plant permanently in exchange for the United States lifting economic sanctions.
According to the Taipei Times, Trump rejected the offer at the time because the Yongbyon nuclear reactor was only one part of North Korea’s nuclear program and was not enough to give concessions to the Korean communist regime.
The IAEA also called the reactivation of the nuclear plant ‘deeply troubling’ as it found evidence that the Korean communist dictatorship is using a laboratory nearby to separate plutonium from the fuel used in the reactor, an indication that the country is actively producing weapons.
The IAEA was expelled from North Korea in 2009, and its report is based on satellite imagery.
Gary Samore, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, said the resumption of operations indicates that North Korea is moving to expand its nuclear arsenal.
“It appears to indicate North Korea has resumed producing plutonium for its nuclear weapons program,” said Samore. “While North Korea already has a significant stockpile of nuclear weapons, this suggests it is moving to expand its current arsenal.”
The Biden administration says it has attempted to establish diplomatic relations with the North Korean regime but rejected any negotiations without a change in U.S. policies first, mainly referring to the sanctions currently imposed.
According to Breitbart, Jen Psaki told reporters in April of this year regarding the current administration’s approach to North Korea:
“Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience. Our policy calls for a calibrated, practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy with the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].”
According to Business Insider, earlier this month, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, threatened to bolster the country’s military in response to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“The dangerous war exercises pushed ahead by the US and the South Korean side disregardful of our repeated warnings will surely make them face more serious security threat,” she said in a statement.
The revival of North Korea’s nuclear program seems to indicate that the Korean regime has lost its hope of negotiating a nuclear treaty with the Biden administration.
Amidst impeachment calls from Republicans after the Afghanistan troubled withdrawal, the Biden administration faces another challenge: it must put the North Korean threat at the top of its list of priorities.