"Fresh activity" at N Korea nuclear
N Korea claimed to have restarted work at
Yongbyon in February
South Korea is investigating reports of fresh activity at
the Yongbyon nuclear facility in North Korea.
South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted US and South
Korean officials as saying that a US satellite detected
fumes rising from a boiler at the lab.
Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said Seoul was trying
to confirm this.
Pyongyang said in July that it had reprocessed 8,000
spent fuel rods to extract plutonium, and has since vowed
to boost its nuclear deterrent.
JoongAng Ilbo said a US intelligence satellite had
detected "signs of vapour and fumes" from a
coal-fired boiler linked to a nuclear laboratory at the
plant on four days this month.
It said a truck was also spotted in the area where the
nuclear reactor is located.
"We are trying to confirm the activities, but at
this stage I have no definitive information to disclose,"
Mr Jeong told reporters in Seoul.
Officials will want to establish whether the vapour and
fumes relate to gasses that are released when nuclear
material is reprocessed or extracted from a nuclear
North Korea claims that it restarted Yongbyon, which was
mothballed under a 1994 agreement with the US, in
February, and has since produced plutonium for nuclear
The CIA believes North Korea already has one or two in
its nuclear arsenal.
But monitoring North Korea's nuclear activities is
notoriously difficult, especially since Pyongyang kicked
out UN monitors last year.
The latest report of activity at Yongbyon comes as the US
and its allies try to get North Korea to resume talks on
the nuclear crisis.
The US and its allies last week offered a plan of "co-ordinated
steps" to resolving the stand-off, whereby
Washington and Pyongyang would stagger their concessions.
But North Korea, fearful of a possible attack by the US,
has insisted on simultaneous moves.
Earlier this week, its foreign ministry spokesman said it
would not even sit down at the table with Washington and
its allies unless it was promised energy aid and the
removal of North Korea from the US' list of state
sponsors of terrorism - in return for which it would
"freeze" its nuclear programme.
US President George W Bush dismissed this proposal,
insisting that North Korea end its programme entirely.
NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
Yongbyon: 5-MWt experimental nuclear power reactor and
partially completed plutonium extraction facility.
Activities at site frozen under 1994 deal. North Korea
says restarted in Feb
Taechon: 200-MWt nuclear power reactor - construction
halted under 1994 deal
Pyongyang: Laboratory-scale "hot cells" that
may have been used to extract small quantities of
Kumho: Two 1,000-MWt light water reactors being built
under 1994 deal - work has been suspended
Zdroj: BBC News
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