‘Suspicious activity’ noted at North Korean n-site

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Washington, April 5 (IANS) New satellite images have shown “suspicious activity” at a North Korean nuclear facility at Yongbyon, 38 North, a Washington-based monitoring group announced on Tuesday.

Plumes of exhaust steam, a byproduct of heating the main plant at the Yongbyon Radiochemical Laboratory complex, have been seen in commercial satellite images taken March 12 and over the preceding five weeks, the group said.

North Korea boasts of a graphite reactor of five megawatts in the Yongbyon complex, whose spent fuel is processed in the radiochemical laboratory to obtain plutonium used in making nuclear bombs.

“Exhaust plumes have rarely been seen there and none has been observed on any examined imagery this past winter,” CNN quoted the group as saying.

“The plumes suggest that the operators of the reprocessing facility are heating their buildings, perhaps indicating that some significant activity is being undertaken, or will be in the near future.”

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Separate images appear to show further work on the site’s Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR), a key facility for the enrichment of nuclear fuel, is ongoing, with a new transformer yard and road built, and the installation of electrical cables completed.

Construction of new buildings near the Uranium Enrichment Complex is also taking place, with some buildings nearing completion and new projects started, the group added.

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