World War 3: North Korea Producing More Plutonium
North Korea is preparing for World War 3 stoking up on Plutonium according to an analysis of thermal imagery, the country has likely produced an undetermined amount of additional plutonium for nuclear weapons since September.
38 North, a U.S. website specializing in North Korea analysis, said in a report that the communist country appears to have increased its plutonium production at the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon from September through June.
“The Radiochemical Laboratory operated intermittently and there have apparently been at least two unreported reprocessing campaigns to produce an undetermined amount of plutonium that can further increase North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile,” the report said.
The finding indicates there was batch, not continuous, processing of spent fuel rods in the period of analysis, it said.
North Korea has conducted five underground nuclear tests since 2006, and carried out its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week. Experts believe it is only a matter of time before the North develops an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland.
The report also noted increased thermal activity at the uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon.
“It is unclear if this was the result of centrifuge operations or maintenance operations,” it said. “Centrifuge operations would increase the North’s enriched uranium inventory; however, based on imagery alone, it is not possible to conclude whether the plant is producing low or highly enriched uranium.”
Pyongyang is thought to have used plutonium for its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, but some analysts say it could have used highly enriched uranium for the fifth test in September.
If confirmed, the development would mark an advance in the North’s nuclear weapons program because uranium enrichment is harder to detect than plutonium enrichment. Uranium can also be enriched continually while plutonium stocks are limited.
North Korea threatened Friday to take “corresponding measures” if the United Nations Security Council adopts a new punitive resolution on the country.
The response from North Korea came as the U.N. council is moving to impose another set of sanctions on North Korea for its test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week.
“Should the UNSC adopt another ‘resolution on sanctions,’ this will trigger corresponding measures by the DPRK and (the North will) respond to the ‘resolution’ with its act of justice,” a spokesman of the foreign ministry was quoted by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency as saying.
The successful launch of Hwasong-14 “has fully demonstrated the will and capability of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to annihilate the U.S. in a single blow to the very heart of its mainland in case it fails to act with discretion,” the report said, arguing the U.S. is behind the U.N. move.
“It is time for the U.S. to renew its perspective on the DPRK’s strategic position which has reached dazzling heights … However, it is inviting its ultimate doom by resorting to the sanctions and pressure campaign against the DPRK,” it also said.
“It will be a fatal mistake to consider any chance that the DPRK which rose to a dignified nuclear power and an ICBM state would tolerate the reckless ‘sanctions’ racket of the U.S. and other hostile forces,” according to the report.
South Korea dismissed the North’s claim, pointing out that its ceaseless provocations are the cause for the international community’s strong reaction.
The North “will have to clearly realize that it will face stronger sanctions and pressure if it does not halt nuclear and missile provocation,” an official at Seoul’s foreign ministry said, adding that it’s the government’s formal response to Pyongyang’s latest statement.
He urged the North to make the “right choice” to denuclearize itself.