Satellite images reveal North Korea expanding Yongbyon nuclear facility


North Korea
In this September 18 satellite photo a uranium enrichment plant is seen at North Korea's main Yongbyon nuclear complex. [Planet Labs Inc via AP]

The Associated Press's satellite photographs show North Korea expanding a uranium enrichment unit at its major Yongbyon nuclear complex.

According to a report by Jeffrey Lewis and two other experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, "The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea plans to increase its production of weapons-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by as much as 25 percent ,"

According to the report, photographs taken by satellite imagery provider Maxar indicated development near the Yongbyon uranium enrichment site.

According to the report, a satellite image taken on September 1 showed North Korea clearing trees and preparing the land for building and a construction excavator. According to the report, a second image obtained on September 14 showed a wall being raised to enclose the area, construction on a foundation, and panels being lifted from the side of the enrichment building to allow access to the newly enclosed area.

Last month, satellite images of Yongbyon revealed hints that North Korea was restarting the production of weapons-grade plutonium at other facilities.

The report comes after North Korea conducted three ballistic missile tests in recent days. Pyongyang recently announced that it had launched ballistic missiles from a train for the first time and that it was continuing to strengthen its defenses.

North Korea, which has conducted numerous missile tests in previous years, resumed them after denuclearization discussions with the US stalled.

While in office, former US President Donald Trump attempted to achieve an agreement with North Korea. In 2019, Kim and Trump met in Hanoi for a summit that halted nuclear talks.

Since June 2018, the two have met three times but have made little headway toward disarmament.

The new Biden government approached North Korea, but the country did not react.

Biden said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed challenges addressed by "diplomacy and stern deterrence" in his first policy speech to Congress.

North Korea responded by dismissing the possibility of discussions with Washington, calling Biden's address "intolerable" and "a big blunder."

Following North Korea's first nuclear test this week, the US stated that it is still willing to negotiate with the country on disarmament.

Publish : 2021-09-19 11:41:00

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