The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog warned on Monday that North Korea’s nuclear activities remain “a source of serious concern” as there are signs that it could reprocess spent fuel from reactors to extract plutonium – an ingredient that could be used for weapons.
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, made the remark during a meeting of its board of governors, made up of 35 countries, including the United States.
“The DPRK’s nuclear activities remain a source of serious concern,” he said. “The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear program is a flagrant violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.
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In his speech, Grossi said that since September 2020, “some nuclear facilities in the DPRK have continued to operate while others have remained closed.”
He said that a steam plant serving a radiochemical laboratory “has continued to operate since my last statement to the Council in March”.
“The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign in the radiochemistry laboratory,” he added. “However, it is not possible to confirm that reprocessing is taking place.”
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The IAEA monitors North Korea’s nuclear program using satellite imagery.
North Korea expelled the agency’s inspectors in 2009 and last detonated a nuclear weapon in testing in 2017, according to Reuters.
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