Restart of Yongbyon reactor reflects North Korea’s need for fissile material
Kim Jong Un seeks to modernize the DPRK’s nuclear weapons, a goal that benefits from resumed plutonium production
In a recent report, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessed that North Korea’s 5-megawatt-electric gas-graphite reactor at Yongbyon has resumed operations.
The IAEA director-general placed the rough time of the reactor’s restart at July 2021, marking the end of a two-and-half-year break in operations. The IAEA last assessed that the reactor ceased operations in Dec. 2018, shortly after the first U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Singapore and two inter-Korean summits that year.
The restart of Yongbyon is broadly unsurprising given the ongoing quantitative expansion of North Korea’s nuclear
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