Friday, August 31, 2012

North Korea makes "significant" nuclear reactor progress: IAEA

(Reuters) - North Korea has made significant progress in the construction of a light water atomic reactor over the past year, a U.N. watchdog report said, a facility that may extend Pyongyang's capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing satellite images, also said "certain activities" had been observed at locations where the reclusive Asian state "reportedly" conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

But "without access to the locations the agency is unable to provide a technical assessment of the purpose of these activities or of whether nuclear material is being used", the annual report, issued to IAEA member states on Thursday, said.

North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Myanmar and Pakistan. It is believed to be pushing ahead with plans to conduct a third nuclear test.

It became the first country to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and has denied IAEA access to its atomic sites, reneging on a February deal to do so after it announced plans to launch a long-range rocket, in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Read More