The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

North Korea’s Yongbyon may be restarting

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korean nuclear reactor may be operational, DW 5 Sept 14  A new report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog says North Korea may be operating a reactor at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon. The site has previously been associated with the production of nuclear weapons. In the document seen by news agencies on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had detected signs the reactor in the country’s north was undergoing tests that suggested it was being prepared for a restart.

The agency said it had “observed, through analysis of satellite imagery, steam discharges and the outflow of cooling water” at the reactor since late August 2013, adding that these were “consistent with the reactor’s operation.”

However, the IAEA stopped short of saying the facility was fully operational, as it has had “no access to the five megawatt reactor since April 2009.” The IAEA relies mainly on satellite images in its assessments of North Korea’s nuclear activities because Pyongyang does not allow the agency’s inspectors into the country………

September 6, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

South Korea and China in agreement on threat of North Korea’s nuclear activities

China agrees North Korea’s nuclear activities a serious threat, says South Mon May 26, 2014 SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and China agreed on Monday that recent nuclear activity by North Korea posed a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region and Pyongyang must not conduct a nuclear test, Seoul said after a meeting of their top diplomats.

Renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site has indicated Pyongyang may be preparing a fourth nuclear test in contravention of U.N. sanctions.

Analysis have suggested the North may be close to miniaturising a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, alarming regional powers that have for two decades tried to rein in Pyongyang’s atomic programme.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his South Korea counterpart Yun Byung-se to discuss the North’s nuclear programme, as well as an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul this year, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

“The two ministers agreed to step up cooperation based on the united position that they object to the North’s nuclear test and that recent nuclear activities by the North pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,” the ministry said.

China, North Korea’s lone major ally, is usually very guarded in its opinion on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, usually expressing its desire for a nuclear-free “Korean peninsula” and careful not to be seen to be taking sides…….

May 27, 2014 Posted by | India, North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea warned by China against conducting 4th nuclear test

China warns North Korea against fourth nuclear test, Australia Network News, 20 May 14   China has used diplomatic channels to warn North Korea against conducting a fourth nuclear test after the reclusive state renewed its threat of “counter-measures” against perceived US hostility.

North Korea, which regularly threatens the South and the United States with destruction, is already under heavy sanctions imposed by several UN resolutions beginning in 2006 but has defied pressure to abandon its missile and nuclear programs.

It last conducted a nuclear test in February 2013.

“China has told North Korea that there is no justification for a new nuclear test and that they should not do it,” a Western diplomat who was briefed by Chinese officials said.

The sources said China had used diplomatic channels in Beijing and Pyongyang to convey its anxiety about the possibility of a fourth test to the North……

May 20, 2014 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Anxiety over potential radiation risks in North Korea’s nuclear site

flag-N-KoreaU.S. think tank says North Korea is having radiation issues at primary nuclear site Raw Story, By Agence France-Presse Monday, April 7, 2014 The United States and its allies warned North Korea against provocations as researchers reported potential radiation risks due to problems at the regime’s main nuclear complex…….

A U.S. think tank, reviewing recent satellite images, said Monday that North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear site appeared to have suffered water supply problems due to heavy rain and floods last summer. An unstable supply could pose radiation risks, especially at North Korea’s first light water reactor, which is near completion, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The regime does not have experience operating the light water reactor and “the rapid loss of water used to cool the reactor could result in a serious safety problem,” analyst Nick Hansen wrote on the institute’s blog, 38 North. North Korea has more experience with its restarted plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon but its “lack of airtight containment could lead to the escape of some radioactivity even in small accidents.” The published analysis comes after South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned that Yongbyon could witness a Chernobyl-style disaster, one of a series of comments that enraged North Korea, whose official media accused her of speaking “nonsense gibberish.” The 38 North analysis downplayed the risks of a Chernobyl-scale disaster, saying Yongbyon was smaller than the Soviet-built station in Ukraine where a 1986 accident killed 30 people in an explosion and another 2,500 afterward in related illnesses. “However, a radioactive release into the atmosphere or river would cause an expanded local area of contamination,” the analysis said. “Also, Pyongyang’s likely lack of transparency could create a regional crisis, panicking the public in surrounding countries and raising tensions with governments anxious for further information.”….

April 9, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

North Korea’s hostile response to South Korea

N Korea Assaults South Leader Over Nuclear Remarks Liberty Voice, by Fern flag-N-KoreaRemedi-Brown on March 29, 2014. South Korea President Park Geun-hye has been on a mission to reunify with North Korea. On March 24 the South Korean leader met at The Hague with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In the meeting, the leaders of the three countries pledged to cooperate vis à vis N Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. In The Hague, Ms. Park gave a speech, warning that the North’s nuclear devices could land in the hands of radical extremists. In response to her remarks, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, verbally assaulted her, likening her to a “peasant woman” who was “blabbering.” He also said she was a pawn in the hands of the U.S. and that she must learn to cease such reckless babble………

March 29, 2014 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

A different approach to the very real threat of North Korea

The US needs to go into a straight dialogue with North Korea and Kerry needs to visit and speak to the Communist Parliament as only a minor shift in perception may change events in history
diplomacy-not-bombsHence steps of courage being required at the personal level to change those possible dynamics in history, as history will judge both in retrospect and relentless, on what “we” did to prevent “the North Korean problem” from evolving into a worst case scenario.
 We dream of things that never were and say: “Why not?” 

flag-N-KoreaPaul Wolf,  February 8, 2013  Tonight once again, once again the same old discussion. The discussion being heard so many times but so little effective action being taken.

The discussion about the pending and increasing dilemmas as to how to deal with North Korea. North Korea perceived as an increasing threat,

– North Kore a being an increasing threat…..

.North Korea in 2001 still the country remaining communist, closely spied by its Government, cut off from almost all outside contacts and over and over armed…….

It is one of those countries who perceive in their isolation threats from the outside world, – perceive their family neighbour from the south as an enemy, – perceive the US as an enemy. And in all this are preparing for conflict, – being both irrational and pointless……. Continue reading

December 18, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Renewed anxiety about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: US calls for local action to stem North Korea’s nuclear program ABC Radio PM 16 Dec 2013

The US secretary of state says the execution of the North Korean ruler, Kim Jong-un’s uncle underlines the urgency for China, Russia, Japan and South Korea to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. John Kerry called the execution another example of the North Korean president’s ‘spontaneous and erratic’ behaviour and said it reflected the leader’s insecurities.

December 17, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Arms and uranium trade pact between Zimbabwe and North Korea

Zimbabwe in ‘arms for uranium’ pact with North Korea   Nehanda Radio 19 Sept 13, President Robert Mugabe’s military henchmen have reportedly signed an arms trade agreement worth millions of dollars with North Korea, in return for allowing Pyongyang access to Zimbabwe’s controversial Kanyemba district, which has sparked a uranium mining race pitting Iran and other powers, Nehanda Radio has been told.

Kanyemba district is about 160 miles north of the capital, and is believed to be holding significant uranium reserves, first discovered in the 1970s by German prospectors, but never exploited due to low world prices at the time.

Several other countries have sought the rights to mine Zimbabwe’s untapped uranium deposits, and these include Russia, China and a failed bid by neighbouring South Africa and Namibia, as they scramble for the Yellow cake which is a key ingredient needed for the production of nuclear bombs. Continue reading

September 20, 2013 Posted by | AFRICA, North Korea, politics international, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia worried about he state of North Korea’s aged nuclear reactor

flag_RussiaRussia warns over North Korea work at ‘nightmarish’ nuclear reactor   Russia has warned that North Korea is apparently conducting work on a nuclear reactor, saying the ageing facility is in such a “nightmarish state” it could cause a disaster. ABC News 13 Oct 13

flag-N-KoreaUS analysts say satellite imagery suggests Pyongyang has restarted a research reactor capable of producing plutonium for weapons at its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

The Interfax news agency has quoted a diplomatic source as saying Russia does not have definite information the work has restarted, but warning of dire consequences should that happen.

“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 source said. “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.

“For the Korean peninsula this could entail terrible consequences, if not a man-made catastrophe.”

The US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies says a satellite image from August 31 shows white steam rising from a building near the hall that houses the plutonium production reactor’s steam turbines and electric generators.

“The white coloration and volume are consistent with steam being vented because the electrical generating system is about to come online, indicating that the reactor is in or nearing operation,” the Washington-based institute said. It says the reactor can produce six kilograms of plutonium a year.

The Russian source has cautioned the steam could “simply be testing of the generator”…….

September 13, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Time for a more realistic diplomacy with North Korea

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAU.S. Policy Toward a Nuclear North Korea Should Reflect Reality US News, By  July 15, 2013  “……..what politicos have forgotten, or conveniently overlooked, is that in the past few flag-N-Koreaweeks, North Korea has twice made offers to talk with the United States about its nuclear program. Clearly, something happened – possibly China condoning sanctions or Dennis Rodman saying he was going to visit North Korea again – that made the reclusive country want to begin discussing its nuclear program. This is a good trend and something we should support.

.. the United States has been neutral, even chilly, in its response to North Korea’s recent overtures. Continue reading

July 16, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Negotiations going on between the two Koreas

diplomacy not bombs 1Koreas meet in border village after tensions marked by nuclear threats Sam Kim,CTV News The Associated Press , June 9, 2013 SEOUL, South Korea — Government delegates from North and South Korea began preparatory talks Sunday at a “truce village” on their heavily armed border aimed at setting ground rules for a higher-level discussion on easing animosity and restoring stalled rapprochement projects.

The meeting at Panmunjom, where the truce ending the 1950-53 Korean War was signed, is the first of its kind on the Korean Peninsula in more than two years. Success will be judged on whether the delegates can pave the way for a summit between the ministers of each country’s department for cross-border affairs, which South Korea has proposed for Wednesday in Seoul. Such ministerial talks haven’t happened since 2007.

The intense media interest in what’s essentially a meeting of bureaucrats to iron out technical details is an indication of how bad ties between the Koreas have been……. If the Koreas can arrive at an agreement for ministerial talks, that meeting will likely focus on reopening the factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong that was the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean co-operation, and on other scrapped rapprochement projects and reunions of families separated by the Korean War…..

The talks between the Koreas on Sunday could represent a change in North Korea’s approach, analysts said, or could simply be an effort to ease international demands that it end its development of nuclear weapons, a topic crucial to Washington but initially not a part of the envisioned inter-Korean meetings.

Pyongyang, which is estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices, has committed a drumbeat of acts that Washington, Seoul and others deem provocative since Kim Jong Un took over in December 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

June 10, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear test might be cause of radiation detected at Takasaki, Japan

Radiation detected in Japan may be from North Korea nuclear test April 24, 2013 POSSIBLE radioactive traces from a North Korean nuclear test in February have been detected for the first time, 1000km away in Japan.

The  Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said it had detected isotopes “consistent with a nuclear fission event”, The Japan Times reports. “The ratio of the detected xenon isotopes (xenon-131m and xenon-133) is consistent with a nuclear fission event occurring more than 50 days before the detection,” the CTBTO said.

“This coincides very well” with the North Korea’s announced nuclear test on February 12.The detection at a monitoring station in Japan came 55 days after the explosion, The Japan Times reports.

The group said, however, that the discovery couldn’t help it answer the key question of whether Pyongyang used plutonium or uranium in the blast.

North Korea used plutonium in its 2006 and 2009 tests and any discovery that it used highly enriched uranium for its third test would mark a significant technological step for the impoverished and unpredictable regime…..

It is also possible that the so-called radionuclides were from a nuclear reactor or other atomic activity, and the CTBTO said it is currently examining the traces to see whether this is the case.

It ruled out however that the source was the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant.

The detection was made in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, 1000 km from the North Korean test site. Lower levels were also picked up at Ussuriysk, Russia, one of several hundred sites worldwide reporting to the CTBTO.

April 25, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA and Europe not too worried over North Korea’s nuclear threats

Allies dismiss North Korea’s nuclear war threats Radio Australia, 10 April 2013,   By Brendan Trembath,  The White House and the European Union dismiss North Korea’s claim war is imminent and call on the rogue state to act sensibly.Both the White House and the European Union have described North Korea’s warnings of “thermo-nuclear war” on the Korean peninsula as “unhelpful rhetoric”.

North Korea has told foreign companies, organisations and tourists in South Korea to consider leaving for their own safety.

Warning that events were “inching closer to thermo-nuclear war”, the North’s official news agency said it did not want foreigners to come to harm if war breaks out.

White House spokesman Jay Carney labelled that statement unhelpful, and said it would only serve to “further isolate North Korea”.

European Union delegates meeting in Brussels have drawn up a response to the North Korean warnings, saying it is wrong to proclaim that war is imminent and Pyongyang should heed international demands regarding its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The EU’s note, agreed by the bloc’s 27 member governments on Tuesday, is a response to a warning by North Korea last week that it could not guarantee the safety of diplomats in the country after April 10. An EU diplomat said the note underlined the need for North Korea to act sensibly and rejected “its analysis that full-scale war is imminent”. ….

 Japan readies missiles Meanwhile, Japan says it has deployed missile interceptors to the centre of Tokyo and will use them to shoot down any missile heading towards its airspace…..

April 11, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

North Korea not in a position for nuclear strike to reach USA

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea lacks means for nuclear strike on US, experts say WASHINGTON (Reuters) 8 Apr 13—North Korea’s explicit threats to strike the United States with nuclear weapons are rhetorical bluster, as the isolated nation does not yet have the means to make good on them, Western officials and security experts say.

Pyongyang has slowly and steadily improved its missile capabilities in recent years and U.S. officials say its missiles may be capable of hitting outlying U.S. territories and states, including Guam, Alaska and Hawaii. Some private experts say even this view is alarmist. There is no evidence, the officials say, that North Korea has tested the complex art of miniaturizing a nuclear weapon to be placed on a long-range missile, a capability the United States, Russia, China and others achieved decades ago.

In other words, North Korea might be able to hit some part of the United States, but not the mainland and not with a nuclear weapon. Continue reading

April 8, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s longstanding fear of a USA nuclear attack

as more nations like North Korea obtain nuclear weapons, and as the US struggles to keep a credible nuclear umbrella over its allies from Asia to Europe to the Middle East, the world needs to find a replacement for the current system of maintaining stability based on the mutual fear of nuclear war.

North Korea’s threats show just how urgent that need is.



This fear by three successive leaders from the Kim family in Pyongyang helped pushed them to develop atomic bombs. Now the regime’s threat to attack the United States defies the very logic of the nuclear age – namely, that states with nuclear weapons would always act rationally because of the risk of massive retaliation, or “assured destruction.”

read-this-way As historian Ward Wilson points out in a new book, “Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons,” atomic bombs “were born out of fear, nurtured in and sustained by fear.” Their power to devastate requires a mutual fear to avoid their use.


The current escalation of threats between the US and North Korea illustrates how this reliance on fear can falter. Nations that rely on maximizing fear as a primary tool for defence will find the emotion very difficult to manage in all cases.

The North’s threats, for example, have now led South Korea to consider ending its ban on developing its own nuclear weapons. It is asking for US support to start a nuclear program.

Many in Seoul, South Korea, see the American people as too weary for war and the Obama administration as too eager to reduce the US nuclear arsenal unilaterally. They fear that the American “nuclear umbrella,” which has protected South Korea for 60 years, may no longer be credible enough to deter North Korea from either launching nuclear weapons or using them as blackmail.

MONITOR’S VIEW: Cyberattack on South Korea needs constructive responseFor two decades, the US has tried to talk down North Korea from possessing nuclear weapons by offering hope in place of fear. It tried to convince Pyongyang that the US was not a threat while offering its food aid and oil supplies in return for nuclear disarmament. It hasn’t worked, despite some limited help from China.

Similar persuasion is now being tried on Iran: Give up your nuclear ambitions and instead become a regional power through the strength of your economy, ideas, and culture. In other words, replace the fear that looks to nuclear power for comfort and instead build up your nation’s “soft power.”

President Obama, who came into office with the goal of eliminating the world’s nuclear weapons, has had a difficult time making his case. Instead, he has to now send B-2 bombers near North Korea to assure South Korea of the US nuclear umbrella and as a threat to North Korea. The tit-for-tat of fear only keeps rising.

MONITOR’S VIEW: In Obama trip to Israel, signs of US redirectionHis recent trip to Israel was designed in part to persuade Iran to cease its uranium enrichment. His visit was an attempt to reinforce faith in the US nuclear umbrella for the region, especially Israel. But as with North Korea, the logic of deterrence assumes that the leaders in Iran will be both fearful and rational.

In the past few decades, a dozen countries have given up their nuclear programs or handed over nuclear weapons on their soil. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, for example,Kazakhstan cooperated with Russia and the US to hand over the weapons in its possession. Most of those nations chose to seek safety in being a nation of peace, goodwill, and prosperity while also relying on an international system that depends to a large degree on the US maintaining it.

And most nations abide by international agreements banning the use of chemical and biological weapons. Fear of those weapons has been largely contained.

Yet as more nations like North Korea obtain nuclear weapons, and as the US struggles to keep a credible nuclear umbrella over its allies from Asia to Europe to the Middle East, the world needs to find a replacement for the current system of maintaining stability based on the mutual fear of nuclear war.

North Korea’s threats show just how urgent that need is.

April 8, 2013 Posted by | North Korea, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment


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