The re-launch of North Korea’s Yonben nuclear reactor may lead to a catastrophe due to the poor state of its technical infrastructure, according to a source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
“We’re primarily concerned with quite possible technogenic [technology-caused] consequences. The reactor of 1950s design is in a horrible condition,” a source told Interfax.
A number of indirect indicators suggest that certain works are
being conducted at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research
Center in North Korea, but Russia has no proof that the reactor
of the facility has been restarted, the source said.
"It is obvious that some work has been done there, and it has been done for quite a long time. Some indirect signs did indicate that the matter was about a relaunch," the source said.
"But we don't have information that the reactor has been launched," he added.
After analyzing satellite imagery taken on August 31, 2013, US analysts from the Institute at Johns Hopkins University tend to believe that white steam coming out of a building next to the five-megawatt plutonium reactor at Yongbyon indicate that the reactor has been restarted.
The source in the Russian Foreign Ministry believes this could be a simple “generator check-up” without the reactor actually running.
“It is obvious that some work has been done there, and it has
been done for quite a long time. Some indirect signs did indicate
that the matter was about a relaunch,” the source said.
Nobody knows exactly the engineering status of the object in
Yonben that stopped operation in 2007, so in case of a
technogenic catastrophe the consequences for the Korean Peninsula
could be dire, the source said.
The UN nuclear watchdog has confirmed that it is closely following reports about the Yongbyon nuclear complex, but said it lacked a “clear understanding" of the situation there.
“As we don't have inspectors there, we don't have anything for sure,” said Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has not commented on
the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, citing the confidential nature of
The news about North Korean reactor comes at the time when the American and Chinese diplomats have returned to negotiation table for talks to put an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
On Wednesday, Glyn Davies, the US special representative on North
Korea policy paid a visit to Beijing where he met with his
Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei and discussed North Korea's nuclear