U.S. Raises Alarm over North Korea’s Light-Water Reactor Operations

Washington D.C., United States - The United States has officially expressed grave concern regarding North Korea's recent activities, which indicate the initiation of operations at a new light-water nuclear reactor. This development is perceived as a potential step towards the production of nuclear weapons fuel.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi reported on Thursday that there have been increased signs of North Korea commissioning the light-water reactor (LWR) at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex. Notable indicators include the discharge of warm water from the facility. The U.S. Mission emphasized the serious implications of this development, stating that the commissioning of the new light-water nuclear power plant in North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), not only raises safety concerns but also continues to pose a significant threat to international peace and security. The Mission further highlighted the risks associated with the absence of IAEA's monitoring and assistance, which could extend to the DPRK, the region, and the global nuclear industry.

IAEA Chief Grossi specified that the discharge of warm water is indicative of the reactor reaching criticality. He added that a light-water reactor, like any nuclear reactor, can produce plutonium in its irradiated fuel, which can subsequently be separated during reprocessing. This scenario is particularly concerning, as stated by Grossi. Moreover, he pointed out that the continued development of North Korea's nuclear program, including the construction and operation of the LWR, violates United Nations Security Council resolutions. Grossi urged Pyongyang to fully comply with its obligations under these resolutions.

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