South Korea, US monitoring possible halt in North Korea nuclear reactor

SpaceWar.com reports: “South Korea’s defence ministry said Thursday it was ‘closely monitoring’ a North Korean nuclear reactor site after local media reported its operations had been temporarily suspended, potentially to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

The Donga Ilbo newspaper reported earlier in the day that intelligence sources in Seoul and Washington had detected signs the five-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon had temporarily stopped operations late last month.

The suspension could be an indication that spent fuel rods are being reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, the report cited a government source as saying.

‘South Korean and US intelligence authorities are closely monitoring related movements,’ defence ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyou told reporters when asked about the report at a daily briefing.

Located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Pyongyang, Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor and the only known source of plutonium for North Korea’s banned weapons programme…”

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