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Defense Minister: NK Restoring Main Nuke Facility

Updated October. 05, 2010 13:26

한국어

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 Seoul’s 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 Korea’s 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 North’s 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 facility’s 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.