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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

North Korea confirms resumption of plutonium production

Most papers ran a Kyodo report from Pyongyang saying that North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute said in a written interview on Aug. 17 that it has reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor. This indicates that plutonium is being produced at the Yongbyon complex. This is the first time for the DPRK to officially admit to its reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel since it vowed in 2013 to restart the nuclear reactors that were shut down under the 2007 Six-Party Talks agreement. The institute also said that North Korea has no plan to stop conducting nuclear tests as long as perceived threats from the United States continue and that it has been producing highly enriched uranium necessary for nuclear arms and power as scheduled. The institute, however, stopped short of disclosing the amount of plutonium or enriched uranium North Korea has produced. The institute’s first-ever response to questions from foreign media is apparently intended to demonstrate to the international community Pyongyang’s plan to accelerate its development of nuclear weapons.

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