The Institute for Science and International Security released a report on Wednesday finding that the area of the Yongbyon reactor complex responsible for enriching uranium is now twice as large as it was in the past.
According to the New York Times, the report by the Washington-based, nonproliferation-monitoring group triggers new worries that North Korea is expanding its capacity to produce weapons-grade fuel.
The analysis was based on a comparison of satellite images of the complex taken in March — before construction began on the expansion — and on a June image that shows the framework of the addition, which is roughly the same size as the initial centrifuge facility.
Additional proliferation experts agreed with the ISIS analysis that the uranium-enrichment portion of the site appears to have doubled in size, the Times reported.
The expanded facility could produce anywhere from 16 to 68 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium, enough to manufacture two nuclear weapons per year, the ISIS report states.
North Korea asserts that the centrifuge facility produces low-enriched uranium for an onsite experimental light water reactor at the complex. However, it is unclear how extensive the North’s enrichment capacity has become and whether the isolated nation has produced weapon-grade uranium — and, if so, how much, according to the analytical organization.
North Korea has faced sanctions from the United Nations aimed at preventing the North from acquiring specialty metals and centrifuge components from overseas. Pyongyang might have been able to develop ways of producing these materials domestically, according to the newspaper.
The news comes less than two weeks after North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un told the Chinese vice president that he was open to restarting denuclearization discussions, and just a day after the North proposed another round of talks with South Korea with the intent of reopening a shuttered factory complex operated jointly by the two nations.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."