Seoul, Oct 5 (EFE).- South Korean and American authorities are analyzing the possibility that the nuclear reactor owned by North Korea has recently completed a production cycle of new batches of plutonium, which the regime uses for its atomic bombs. as confirmed today by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.
“Intelligence officials from the Republic of Korea (official name of South Korea) and the United States are closely monitoring any movement related to this matter,” Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyou confirmed today at a press conference. in response to the information reported by the Dong A newspaper the day before.
According to the newspaper, which cites anonymous sources, both countries have obtained reconnaissance data indicating that the 5 megawatt electric reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center (about 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang) would have been turned off at the end of September.
Taking into account that this reactor usually operates in cycles of between two and three years and that it was turned on in July 2021, its stoppage could indicate that the current cycle has been completed and that the regime could obtain a new batch of plutonium from the spent uranium fuel found in the core of the fission unit.
The Yongbyon reactor, the only operational one that the isolated Asian country has, is a Magnox-type reactor from which it is estimated that Pyongyang can obtain, after reprocessing the spent fuel, about six kilos of military-grade plutonium for each year that the unit remains in operation, according to expert estimates.
Analysts estimate that North Korea already has 10 or more nuclear bombs and that it has reserves of plutonium and enriched uranium – which it is believed to obtain with centrifuges in Yongbyon and possibly in other parts of the country – to manufacture at least 50 more.
Last week, the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly (Parliament) approved including in its Constitution the obligation to strengthen its nuclear forces, a year after having legislated the mechanisms to launch preventive atomic attacks.
In turn, it is believed that the Punggye-ri nuclear test center (northeast of the country) is ready to host a new underground detonation from the beginning of 2022.