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US Satellite Confirms NKorea Reactivated Nuclear Reactor Last Month: Report

File satellite photo North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Tokyo (AFP) Aug 21, 2005
A US spy satellite has found that North Korea reactivated its nuclear reactor last month after it spotted vapor coming out of the reactor's boiler, a Japanese daily said Sunday.

The reactivation of the Yongbyon nuclear complex came just before six-nation talks aimed at halting the North's nuclear drive began in Beijing in late July, the Asahi Shimbun daily said, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

The topic of the reactivated reactor had been discussed during the talks - which involved the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the United States - the daily said without giving further details.

The Asahi said vapor had not been seen at the Yongbyon reactor since early April, and the report quoted a US source as saying that the release of vapor indicated renewed activity.

"It is hard to think that the boiler alone can operate without the active nuclear reactor," a US government source was quoted by the daily as saying.

In April, North Korea said it had shut down the reactor, 90 kilometersmiles) north of Pyongyang, while it was preparing to reprocess more spent fuel, a move that could result in the production of enough plutonium to double its nuclear arsenal.

"North Korea has indicated it will give up on the nuclear reactor, but at the same time it is steadily expanding the level of its nuclear development," a senior US official was quoted by the Asahi as saying.

The latest round of six-nation talks resumed in Beijing last month after a 13-month stalemate, following North Korea's declaration in February that it already had nuclear bombs.

After nearly two weeks of sometimes heated and late-night negotiations, the key sticking point was whether North Korea should be allowed to run nuclear programs for peaceful, energy use.

The United States has ruled out North Korea being allowed to operate light-water nuclear reactors, but South Korea has said the North should have the right to maintain a civilian nuclear program.

The six-party talks broke off on August 7 for three weeks without any sign of agreement on how to get the Stalinist state to abandon atomic weapons.

The talks are scheduled to resume in the final week of August.

related report
South Korea Denies Allegations On North's Nuclear Reactor: Yonhap
SEOUL (AFP) Aug 21, 2005 - South Korea on Sunday denied a Japanese media report that North Korea had reactivated its nuclear reactor a month ago, the official Yonhap news agency said.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun daily on Sunday said the North began firing up its Yongbyon nuclear complex again in July, adding a US spy satellite spotted vapor from its boiler.

"It looks like an inaccurate news report even though I cannot verify it because it belongs to intelligence," an unnamed Seoul government official told Yonhap in response to the Asahi report.

Asahi quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying the North's alleged reactivation of the reactor had been discussed during the latest six-way talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear ambitions.

"I understand such an issue was never raised at the fourth round of (six-way) talks," the Seoul official told Yonhap.

The nuclear talks - between the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan - resumed in Beijing last month. The talks are to reopen in the final week of August.

The North shut down the nuclear reactor 90 kilometers (50 miles) north of Pyongyang in April to reprocess spent fuel rods, a move which produces weapons grade plutonium. In May, it said it had completed reprocessing them.

The North declared in February it had nuclear bombs.

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Pakistan To Meet With UN Nuclear Agency On Iranian Uranium Contamination
Vienna (AFP) Aug 21, 2005
The UN nuclear watchdog meets this week with Pakistani officials to check its conclusions that highly enriched uranium particles found in Iran were from smuggled Pakistani centrifuge parts rather than enrichment work by Iran, diplomats said.







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