Pyongyang vows to start Yongbyon nuclear plantNorth Korea vowed to restart idled nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, withdrawing its promise to shut them down in 2007, its latest manner of angrily protesting ongoing Seoul-Washington joint military exercises.
An unnamed spokesman of the General Department of Atomic Energy said in a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency yesterday that they “decided to adjust and change the use of the current nuclear facilities.”
The spokesman said, “We will rearrange and reactivate the five-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor, along with all of the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, including the uranium-enriching plant, which have been halted and disrupted based on the agreement at the six-party talks [in 2007].
“This measure is part of the so-called ‘two-track strategic line,’ which was adopted at the plenary session of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party,” the spokesman said. “This business will be carried out without any hesitation.”
At the session held on Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said, “The enemy threatens us that we won’t be able to realize economic development unless we abandon our nuclear weapons, but we can’t avoid developing our nuclear powers,” according to KCNA.
The so-called two-track policy is supposed to include “carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously,” according to KCNA.
North Korea started to operate the graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon, which was its first nuclear facility, in 1986. The reactor has a water-cooling tower, and it produces plutonium used for nuclear weapons.
Under the pact signed in 1994 between the United States and North Korea, the so-called Geneva Agreed Framework, the regime froze all of its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and other areas.
In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and reactivated the reactors in Yongbyon. Two years later, in May 2005, it announced the five-megawatt reactor had produced some 8,000 fuel rods.
Once again in September 2005, the regime promised to abandon all nuclear weapons programs and return to the nonproliferation treaty by signing the Sept. 19 joint declaration at the six-party talks.
In February 2007, the regime agreed on a shutdown of its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and accepted International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to supervise the facilities through the so-called “Feb. 13 Agreement.” In return, the regime was supposed to receive massive assistance including one million tons of heavy fuel oil.
The following October, Pyongyang also signed the “Oct. 13 Agreement” and promised to disable all of its nuclear facilities.
As part of its efforts to carry out the agreements, Pyongyang destroyed a water-cooling tower in June 2008.
But in September that year, the regime reversed course and said it was “in the process of restoring the nuclear facilities.” In April 2009, the regime kicked out all IAEA supervisors from Yongbyon. In November 2009, North Korea announced they had completed reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods.
By Kim Hee-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]