North Korea announces restart of nuclear reactor

North Korea announces restart of nuclear reactor
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North Korea announced on Tuesday it had restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and was ready to use nuclear weapons "any time" against the U.S., according to a state news report. 

"If the U.S. and other hostile forces persistently seek their reckless hostile policy towards the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] and behave mischievously, the DPRK is fully ready to cope with them with nuclear weapons any time," the director of the North Korean Atomic Energy Institute said, CNN reported.  

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The official said North Korea's main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, including a uranium enrichment plant and a plutonium production reactor, is operating normally. 

The announcement comes less than a day after the country said it was preparing to launch a long-range rocket, raising concerns about a launch around its 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the ruling Workers Party on Oct. 10. 

North Korean officials say they are in the "final phase" of developing a new satellite and that the world should expect to see a series of its satellites "soaring into the sky." 

The State Department on Monday reiterated that such launches are prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions. The launches are seen as a way of testing ballistic missile technology. 

"There are multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that require North Korea to suspend all activities related to their ballistic missile program and re-establish a moratorium on missile launches, stop conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology, and abandon its ballistic missile program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner," State Department press secretary John Kirby said in a statement. 

"Any satellite launch using ballistic missile technology would be a clear violation of those resolutions," he said. 

Yongbyon was shut down in 2007 in a deal brokered through “six party” talks involving the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas, but Pyongyang announced in 2013 that it would revamp and restart its nuclear reactor. 

Earlier this year, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he believed that "North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the reactor.

The U.S. has called on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program as a condition to future negotiations, but the country has dismissed the entreaties, demanding to be recognized as a nuclear power. 

The announcements by North Korea could give fodder to Republican critics of the administration's nuclear deal with Iran, who argued during debate about the deal that Iran is another North Korea waiting to happen. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) has scheduled another vote Tuesday evening on a resolution to disapprove the deal, which would prevent it from being implemented. The resolution failed in a 58-42 vote on Thursday. Sixty votes were needed on the procedural motion. 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday said the U.S. would not accept North Korea as a nuclear state. 

"North Korea should refrain from irresponsible provocations that serve only to aggravate regional tensions," he said.

 

-- Jordan Fabian contributed