Updated October. 05, 2010 13:26
North Korea is restoring its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon, where the cooling tower had been demolished, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said Monday.
North Korea has been reconstructing nuclear facilities and maintaining facilities in Yongbyon, Kim told a parliamentary audit of his ministry in Seouls Yongsan district. The North is building new buildings in the region of the second reactor and conducting a massive excavation.
Seoul based its confirmation of the restoration on data from the Institute for Science and International Security, a U.S.-based global security think tank which reported new construction at the nuclear facility.
North Korea is building two rectangular buildings next to the cooling tower that was demolished in 2008, a source from the South Korean government said. The new buildings seem to be general buildings and not a cooling tower, but it remains to be seen what their purpose will be.
Since Yongbyon is not a place for a nuclear test, it`s hard to say if North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test, but what is certain is that it hasn`t suspended nuclear-related activities, the source added. The government has been monitoring North Koreas nuclear-related activities.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Park Kil Yon said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York Wednesday, Our nuclear deterrence can never be given up and we will rather strengthen it.
The cooling tower for the five-megawatt nuclear reactor was destroyed in June 2008 under an agreement reached at the six-party nuclear talks in 2007. With the U.N. Security Council saying the Norths launch of a long-range missile violated U.N. Resolution 1718 and releasing a statement critical of the North, Pyongyang declared a suspension to the Yongbyon facilitys disablement and a restoration of the facility.
North Korea is likely to conduct a joint tactical drill in the presence of Kim Jong Il before the 65th anniversary of the Workers Party Oct. 10, Minister Kim said in the audit. It is preparing a large-scale joint drill of its armed forces off the coast of Wonsan.
He also said Pyongyang is likely to attempt another provocation ahead of the November G20 summit in Seoul.