"North Korea nuclear programme cause for serious concern" says the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable,” Rafael Grossi, the IAEA’s director-general told a news conference after a meeting with the Vienna-based agency’s board of governors. North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Grossi said there was evidence of continuing construction and that a cooling water facility at an experimental light water reactor had been tested at the end of last year, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
There were also signs that North Korea had been operating a thermal plant at the Yongbyon complex that could be used to provide heat to a nuclear fuel rod reprocessing facility, Yonhap said.
Yongbyon has nuclear reactors, fuel reprocessing plants and uranium enrichment facilities that have been linked to the country’s nuclear weapons programme.
Talks on denuclearisation have stalled with the North demanding an end to sanctions and the US insisting Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons.
Independent sanctions monitors said last month that North Korea had maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes throughout 2020, helping fund its activities with some $300m stolen through cyber-hacks.
A United Nations report said Pyongyang “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing to seek material and technology for those programmes from abroad.
Sanctions have been in place since 2006. (AZ).