North Korea’s nuclear program is “of serious concern”, IAEA says | Nuclear Weapons News
The UN surveillance chief notes that the persistent signs of nuclear activity in North Korea are “deeply regrettable”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says North Korea’s nuclear program continues despite United Nations sanctions and remains “a source of serious concern” as denuclearization negotiations have been stalled for more than two years. .
“The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear program is a flagrant violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable,” Rafael Grossi, IAEA director general, told a press conference after a meeting with the board of governors of the Vienna-based agency. North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Grossi added that the IAEA was stepping up its commitment “to play its essential role in verifying North Korea’s nuclear program.”
North Korea last carried out a nuclear test in 2017 and the following year said it blew up tunnels at its main nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, claiming this was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing.
But since that self-proclaimed moratorium, Kim Jong Un, who turns 10 at the helm in December, has called for continued production of nuclear weapons, launched a series of smaller missiles and, in January, pledged to put “the state’s defense capabilities on a much higher level” by revealing what appeared to be a new ballistic missile launched by submarine.
IAEA inspectors are not allowed to enter North Korea, but they monitor activities in the country via satellites and other available information.
Grossi said there was evidence of continued construction and that a cooling water installation in an experimental light water reactor was tested late last year, the agency reported. South Korean Press Release Yonhap.
There were also signs that North Korea was operating a thermal power plant in the Yongbyon complex that could be used to supply heat to a nuclear fuel rod reprocessing facility, Yonhap said.
Yongbyon owns nuclear reactors, fuel reprocessing plants and uranium enrichment facilities which have been linked to the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Denuclearization talks have stalled, with the North demanding an end to sanctions and the United States insisting that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons.
Independent sanctions observers said last month that North Korea had maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2020, helping to fund its activities with some $ 300 million stolen by cyber hacks.
According to a United Nations report, Pyongyang “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and modernized its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing to research materials and technologies for these programs abroad.
Sanctions have been in place since 2006.