North Korea Reassembling Nuclear Facility (Update)
Speaking of fragility Fox News and Japanese media are reporting that North Korea is reassembling the nuclear facility it began dismantling late last year:
WASHINGTON — North Korea, after halting the disassembly of a key nuclear center, is now putting the facility back together in violation of the United States’ conditions for improved diplomatic relations between the countries, U.S. officials told FOX News on Tuesday.
The motive isn’t clear but sources say North Koreans likely are reassembling nuclear facilities at Yongbyon partly to protest the United States’ delay in taking the country off its list of terror-sponsoring nations.
“They’ve been threatening this move for some time,” one U.S. official told FOX News, adding that until now the threats were seen as merely a way for North Korean officials “to express their anger.”
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency also reported Wednesday North Korea has begun putting its Yongbyon facility back together, days after it halted disablement work.
Even now, piecing the facility back together is seen as a “symbolic gesture” because so much already has been taken apart, though the United States is taking the developments seriously.
Another U.S. official told FOX News that North Korea’s intent might be “to put further pressure on us.” The cooling tower is gone but the reactor could be back in operation in two to three months, the official said.
I don’t know whether to attribute this move to inaction on the part of the U. S., fractiousness on the part of the North Koreans, or whether it was inevitable. The unfortunate reality of the the world is that you can’t pay attention to just one thing at a time. You’ve got to keep all of the balls up in the air or one might come down with a nasty boom.
U. S. officials have now denied the report:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea has begun moving around some previously stored equipment at its Yongbyon nuclear plant but does not appear to be trying to rebuild the facility, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.
U.S. and Japanese media reported earlier that North Korea had begun reassembling Yongbyon, which can produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, but State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was not able to confirm the reports.
“To my knowledge, based on what we know from the folks on the ground, you don’t have an effort to reconstruct, re-integrate this equipment back into the Yongbyon facility,” the spokesman told reporters.
The story of the facility being reassembled was reported by “U. S. officials”, Japanese media sources, and South Korean media sources so I can’t tell whether this reflects a difference of opinion, somebody’s behind the curve, something has been revealed that we didn’t particularly want to be revealed, or the North Koreans aren’t reassembling the facility. Stay tuned.