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IAEA: North Korea's suspected uranium enrichment facility active

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Monday in his quarterly update to the group's 35-country Board of Governors that there are signs that activity continues at North Korea's suspected uranium enrichment site. File Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Monday in his quarterly update to the group's 35-country Board of Governors that there are signs that activity continues at North Korea's suspected uranium enrichment site. File Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE

June 7 (UPI) -- North Korea's nuclear facilities are active, the International Atomic Energy Agency says.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Monday in his quarterly update to the group's 35-country Board of Governors that there are signs that activity continues at North Korea's suspected uranium enrichment site.

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"There are ongoing indications of activity at the Kangson location," Grossi said, referring to the facility in Chollima-guyok, outside Pyongyang.

Analysts previously have said the Kangson facility is designed to produce Uranium-235, which can go toward manufacturing nuclear weapons.

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"The steam plant that serves the Radiochemical Laboratory has continued to operate since my last Statement to the Board in March," Grossi said. "The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign at the Radiochemical Laboratory."

Grossi said since September some North Korean nuclear facilities have been operating while "others remained shut down."

"There are no indications of operation at the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor or of the production of enriched uranium at the reported centrifuge enrichment facility at Yongbyon," the IAEA chief said.

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"I call upon [North Korea] to comply fully with its obligations under [United Nations] Security Council resolutions."

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IAEA inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009. Since that time, North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, in 2009, 2013, twice in 2016, and in 2017. North Korea's first nuclear test took place in 2006.

Some experts have said that North Korea enriches uranium at Kangson, but other analysts disagree.

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Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA, said in December that the Kangson plant "appears to lack the infrastructure typically found in North Korea and elsewhere to support uranium enrichment."

"Instead, the characteristics of the site are more consistent with a plant that could manufacture components for centrifuges," Heinonen said.

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