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North Korea's nuclear activity raises 'serious concern,' IAEA says

North Korea's nuclear activity raises 'serious concern,' IAEA says
The International Atomic Energy Agency said North Korea has continued to develop nuclear weapons in “clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions. File Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

March 2 (UPI) -- North Korea has restarted activity at an undisclosed facility that could be a center of uranium enrichment, a cause for "serious concern," the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Monday evidence has emerged of movements at the "Kangson location," a reference to a little known facility in North Korea's Nampo City, South Korea's JoongAng Daily reported Tuesday.

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North Korea's "nuclear activities remain a cause for serious concern," and "the continuation of [North Korea's] nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable," Grossi said in an address to the Board of Governors in Vienna, Al Jazeera reported.

Grossi's statement came the same day the European Union said the blame lies with the North Korean government, and not international sanctions, for the economic hardship of the North Korean people.

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"The primary responsibility for economic and social challenges facing vulnerable people in [North Korea] rests with the policies of the [North Korean] government," said Nabila Massrali, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell, according to Radio Free Asia's Korean service on Monday.

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North Korea has demanded sanctions relief as a precondition for a return to engagement, including the United States. Massrali said sanctions are necessary given Pyongyang's weapons development.

"The EU sees the implementation of sanctions in full by the international community as an important instrument in persuading [North Korea] that its interests lie in returning to dialogue and engaging in early actions towards denuclearization," the EU official said.

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Massrali also said the EU will consider any negative impact of sanctions during COVID-19.

North Korea's security threat is being reevaluated in the United States. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at the U.N. on Monday the Biden administration will "keep pressing toward a denuclearized North Korea."

The previous Trump administration said it would work toward a "denuclearized Korean Peninsula," a policy with different implications that could impact the U.S.-South Korea alliance, according to analysts.

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