UN: North Korea might be restarting reactor

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced Thursday that its observations of a North Korean nuclear complex revealed possible preparations for a reactor restart that could provide the country with weapons-grade plutonium, according to multiple reports.

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“Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor,” the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the organization's board, Reuters reported, adding that without direct access to the site, it was not possible to obtain conclusive evidence.

IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009, but monitoring of the country has continued at a distance through satellite surveillance and other methods.

The IAEA's announcement added support to claims by the U.S. and South Korea in recent months that North Korea was restarting the facility.

North Korea announced in April that it was planning to restart its old reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. The plant had been partially dismantled in 2008 as a part of negotiations with China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests in the last seven years and is believed to possess a small arsenal of nuclear weapons.