Russia warns of ‘catastrophe’ if N Korea restarts reactorAgence France-Presse . Moscow
Russia on Thursday warned of a potential ‘man-made catastrophe’ if North Korea restarts an ageing plutonium reactor to boost its stockpile of nuclear weapons, after US experts spotted steam rising from the Yongbyon facility.
The reactor, which was completed in 1986, is outdated and North Korea could suffer a major disaster if it is restarted, a Russian diplomatic source told the Interfax news agency.
The warning came after researchers at the US-Korea Institute said Wednesday that satellite images taken on August 31 showed plumes of white steam rising from a building next to the reactor.
‘Our main concern is linked to a very likely man-made disaster as a consequence. The reactor is in a nightmarish state, it is a design dating back to the 1950s,’ the Russian source said.
‘For the Korean peninsula this could entail terrible consequences, if not a man-made catastrophe.’
The US envoy on North Korea meanwhile said the reported restart of the reactor would be ‘a misstep on the part of North Korea’.
‘If it turns out that these reports are true that North Korea has restarted the five-megawatt plutonium reactor, this would be a very serious matter,’ Glyn Davies told reporters after meeting Japanese foreign ministry officials in Tokyo.
The Russian diplomat speaking to Interfax said he did not know for sure whether North Korea had relaunched the facility mothballed in 2007.
‘It is obvious that some works are being conducted, and for a long time at that. According to some signs, steps were indeed being taken to relaunch it,’ the diplomat said.
‘We do not have any information that the reactor has been relaunched.’
The image examined by researchers at the US-Korea Institute shows that North Korea ‘appears to have put the reactor into operation,’ researchers Nick Hansen and Jeffrey Lewis wrote on the institute’s blog, 38 North.
But the white steam picked up by satellites ‘could simply be testing of the generator,’ the Russian diplomatic source cited by Interfax cautioned.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was unable to verify whether the reactor had been restarted since North Korea has barred its inspectors since 2009.
‘We are aware of the media report,’ said spokeswoman Gill Tudor.
‘The agency continues its monitoring of the DPRK’s nuclear activities by available means, such as satellite imagery analysis.’
comments powered by Disqus
After over two years of isolation and vilification as the last significant friend of Bashar al-Assad, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, appears for now to have played a trump card in the Syrian crisis with a plan for the regime to hand over chemical weapons. Full story
The National Security Agency shares raw surveillance data with Israel without first removing information about US citizens, according to a document leaked to the Guardian by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The arrangement is described in a memorandum... Full story
More than 200 Muslim Rohingya boat people have landed in southern Thailand, authorities said Thursday, a possible sign that vessels from Myanmar are risking the journey before the end of the monsoon season. The group, believed to be fleeing sectarian violence in unrest-torn Rakhine State, western... Full story
Scientists in Spain said on Wednesday they had made mature cells in living mice revert to their youthful, versatile state, in a step toward the goal of tissue regeneration by stem cells. Right now, the technique is at its earliest stage and is hedged with... Full story
The Netherlands has formally apologised for mass killings committed by the Dutch military more than six decades ago during its former colony Indonesia’s fight for independence. Dutch ambassador Tjeerd de Zwaan issued the apology on Thursday to... Full story
A spate of attacks across Iraq killed seven people on Thursday, including three who died when a suicide car bomber struck as recruits were leaving a military base, officials said. The attacks come amid Iraq’s worst bloodshed since 2008, with more than 4,000 people killed... Full story
Senior Pakistani Taliban commanders opened discussions Thursday on how to respond to an invitation from the government on talks to end an insurgency that has killed thousands of people. Leaders in the Tehreek-e-Taliban are expected to continue consultations for several... Full story
Authorities imposed a curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday to try to quell violent protests over an alleged fatal paramilitary shooting in the disputed territory. Separatists also called for people to stay indoors Thursday, but for a general strike to protest the killing. Full story
A German federal court Wednesday rejected an appeal by a Muslim schoolgirl who wanted to skip swimming lessons because she was uncomfortable being close to bare-chested boys in the pool. The Federal Administrative Court in the eastern city of Leipzig said the girl could... Full story
More than 550 children have left the ranks of armed groups in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo province of Katanga, the United Nations said Wednesday. ‘The awareness campaign calling for children to leave armed groups succeeded in demobilising 557 children... Full story
The United States has begun funnelling weapons and technical equipment to rebel fighters in Syria, the Washington Post reported late Wednesday. Citing US and Syrian sources, the US daily wrote that the CIA had begun delivering... Full story
Qatari-owned news channel Al-Jazeera has launched legal action against the Egyptian authorities, saying that its journalists have been detained without charge and attacked, its London-based lawyers announced Thursday. The network said it had asked renowned legal firm Carter-Ruck, a specialist... Full story
A Canadian woman who was pretending to be pregnant was caught boarding a flight to Canada carrying two kilograms of cocaine, the Colombian police said Wednesday. The woman was identified as Leah Ritchie, a 28 year-old social worker who... Full story
Philippine forces were fighting Muslim rebels on two fronts Thursday as troops launched an offensive to retake parts of a key southern city besieged by guerrillas opposed to peace talks with the government, officials said. Rebels torched houses... Full story