New Images Suggest North Korea Temporarily Shut Down Reactor

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
April 8, 2014, 8:26 a.m.

An ana­lys­is of re­cent satel­lite im­ages in­dic­ates North Korea earli­er this year tem­por­ar­ily hal­ted op­er­a­tions at its plutoni­um re­act­or, likely due to safety fears.

The North is as­sessed to have re­star­ted its So­viet-era graph­ite re­act­or at the Yongby­on com­plex in 2013 in ac­cord­ance with its vow to reded­ic­ate nuc­le­ar fa­cil­it­ies to­ward the pro­duc­tion of fis­sile ma­ter­i­al for weapons pro­duc­tion.

However, the ex­pert web­site 38 North in a Monday im­age ana­lys­is con­cluded that op­er­a­tions at the re­act­or might have either been tem­por­ar­ily sus­pen­ded or greatly re­duced in re­cent months to per­mit main­ten­ance work ne­ces­sit­ated by re­cent flood­ing, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted.

An un­in­ter­rup­ted stream of wa­ter from the river is used to cool the graph­ite re­act­or. The Ju­ly 2013 flood caused the prin­cip­al chan­nel of the Kur­y­ong River to di­vert away from the re­act­or’s wa­ter sup­ply and po­ten­tially dam­aged pipes that had been laid on the river bot­tom, said the ana­lys­is by 38 North, a pro­ject of the U.S.-Korea In­sti­tute at Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity.

Between Decem­ber and Feb­ru­ary, the North ap­pears to have quickly fin­ished “ma­jor wa­ter chan­nel ex­cav­a­tions and dam con­struc­tion,” wrote 38 North im­age ex­pert Nick Hansen. The re­act­or seems to have star­ted op­er­at­ing again by mid-Feb­ru­ary.

The Kur­y­ong River sup­plies cool­ing wa­ter to both the graph­ite re­act­or and a new­er, ex­per­i­ment­al light-wa­ter re­act­or that is al­most com­pleted, ac­cord­ing to 38 North.

“Des­pite these short-term fixes, the danger posed by an un­re­li­able sup­ply of wa­ter for the Yongby­on re­act­ors re­mains, par­tic­u­larly since the chan­nels and dam con­struc­ted are made from sand and could be washed away by fu­ture floods,” Hansen wrote.

A num­ber of in­ter­na­tion­al nuc­le­ar spe­cial­ists have raised con­cerns about a pos­sible re­act­or melt­down at Yongby­on giv­en North Korea’s re­l­at­ive in­ex­per­i­ence with re­act­ors and the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tion­al isol­a­tion and poverty.

“These re­cent prob­lems should be a wake-up call for North­east Asia,” 38 North ed­it­or Joel Wit said to AP.

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
3 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login