Photos show North Korea expanding uranium enrichment plant

By on September 18, 2021 0


Recent satellite images show North Korea is expanding uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex

SEOUL, South Korea – Recent satellite images show that North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, a sign that it intends to increase production of materials for bombs, according to experts.

The assessment comes after North Korea recently increased tensions by conducting its first missile tests in six months as part of a long-dormant nuclear disarmament diplomacy with the United States.

“The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea is planning to increase its production of military-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by up to 25 percent,” said Jeffrey Lewis and two others. experts from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey. a report.

The report says satellite images taken by Maxar show construction in an area adjacent to the Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant.

He said a satellite image taken on September 1 shows that North Korea has cut down trees and prepared the ground for construction, and a construction excavator is also visible. The report says a second image taken on September 14 showed a wall erected to enclose the area, work on a foundation, and panels removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly closed area.

“The new area measures approximately 1,000 square meters, enough space to house an additional 1,000 centrifuges,” the report said. “Adding 1,000 new centrifuges would increase the plant’s capacity to produce highly enriched uranium by 25%.

Nuclear weapons can be built using either highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and North Korea has facilities to produce both at Yongbyon. Earlier satellite photos of Yongbyon last month showed signs that North Korea was resuming operation of other facilities to produce military-grade plutonium.

Some US and South Korean experts believe North Korea is secretly operating at least one other uranium enrichment plant. In 2018, a senior South Korean official told parliament that North Korea had also manufactured up to 60 nuclear weapons.

Estimates of how many nuclear weapons North Korea can add each year vary, ranging from six to 18 bombs.

Kim has threatened to bolster its nuclear arsenal and acquire more sophisticated weapons unless Washington renounces its hostility against his country apparently referring to US-led sanctions and its regular military exercises with Seoul. But he still maintains his self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile testing directly targeting the Americas, suggesting he wishes to preserve the chances of future diplomacy with Washington.