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North Korea 'resumes work' on light water reactor to support its nuclear programme

May 18, 2012 - Pyongyang

North Korea has resumed construction work on a light water reactor in a move to support its nuclear programme, according to a United States institute.

North Korea started the work after 'months of inactivity' at the site since late December, the BBC reports.

The analysis by an institute at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University was based on satellite photographs taken on 30 April showing new construction at the Yongbyon site.

The institute said that Pyongyang is 'now close to completion' of the reactor containment building, adding that it could take about one to two years for it to be completely operational.

Pyongyang has said that the reactor was made to meet energy needs, however, it is an example for other larger reactors already in the pipeline

After the construction work is competed, heavy components such as the pressure vessel, steam generator and pressuriser through the roof would be loaded, the analysis published on the 38north website revealed.

However, the institute has not been able to identify why the work was earlier stopped.

It said that the work was stopped partly due to the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December, or more likely, the approach of winter, it added.

Pyongyang first revealed that it was building a new reactor in 2010 when it showed US scientists a uranium enrichment plant reportedly producing fuel for the new facility.

However, experts have said that the reactor could be used to produce plutonium, and the plant could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium for weapons.

News of progress on the reactor site comes amid reports that North Korea may be planning to carry out a third nuclear test.


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