"Significant Discharge" - IAEA Warns of Possible Nuclear Test in North Korea

IAEA Chief reports increased activity at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea, highlighting concerns about nuclear testing

Rafael Grossi
Rafael Grossi / IAEA Imagebank, CC BY 2.0 DEED

At a board of governors meeting on Wednesday in Vienna, Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reported a significant discharge of water from the cooling system of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea. This could indicate a test of the reactor, which is likely used for producing materials for nuclear weapons.

Grossi mentioned that since mid-October 2023, there has been increased activity near the reactor, coinciding with its commissioning. He also noted North Korea's violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, pointing to the continuation of the country's nuclear program.

In addition, Grossi expressed concern about North Korea's readiness to conduct a new nuclear test at the Punggye-ri site and urged the country to adhere to international obligations on nuclear non-proliferation. The IAEA continues to monitor North Korea's nuclear program vigilantly.

Escalation Rises: South Korea Suspends Part of Peace Agreement with DPRK

Amidst these developments, on Wednesday, November 22, South Korea temporarily suspended part of the agreement with North Korea on reducing military tensions, signed in 2018. This decision was in response to North Korea's launch of a military reconnaissance satellite.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Dok Su held an emergency cabinet meeting where it was decided to resume intelligence activities and monitoring along the border. Han Dok Su stated that North Korea's actions demonstrate its unwillingness to adhere to the agreement aimed at reducing military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and building trust.

The cancellation of Article 1, Clause 3 of the agreement allows South Korea to resume intelligence operations near the military demarcation line that divides the two Koreas. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, visiting the United Kingdom, approved this decision electronically.

About the Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor, North Korea

The Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea is a key facility in the country's nuclear program. It is located at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, about 100 kilometers north of the capital Pyongyang.

The Yongbyon complex contains reactors of various types, including a 5 MW(e) research reactor, considered one of the main sources of plutonium production in the country.

The Yongbyon nuclear complex plays a central role in North Korea's nuclear program, providing materials necessary for creating nuclear weapons. It is presumably used for producing fissile materials like plutonium.

The international community, including the IAEA, expresses serious concerns about activities at this complex, especially in light of possible violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

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