Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
North Korea Seen Placing Roof on New Reactor
A recent satellite picture indicates North Korea has placed a roof on its new light-water reactor -- a critical accomplishment in the project begun in 2010, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Pyongyang maintains the reactor under construction at the Yongbyon nuclear complex will be used to generate nuclear energy for nonmilitary purposes. However, issue analysts worry it might be used to generate plutonium for nuclear warheads.
North Korea's nuclear-weapon program has to date relied on plutonium devices. The nation is believed to hold enough material for at least six weapons.
"The emplacement of the dome is a significant development, although it may take several more years for the facility to be completed and brought into full operation," IHS Jane's Defense Weekly analyst Allison Puccioni said in assessing the images taken on Aug. 6 by the GeoEye-1 satellite.
The reactor would presumably be powered by uranium enriched at another Yongbyon facility. Uranium can also be enriched to levels suitable for use in a nuclear weapon.
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