Lewis was a few days ago with colleagues Joshua Pollack and David Schmerler of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies A few days ago, Lewis, along with colleagues Joshua Pollack and David Schmerler of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), published a report on activities in Yongbyon. The National Nuclear Weapons Center conducts research on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The report said North Korea has laid a pipeline connecting the reactor’s 50-megawatt secondary cooling circuit, dubbed “Nuclear Plant No. 2”, to a pumping station on a nearby river to access water for cooling. The line was buried by May 7. This is “the first clear indication that North Korea intends to complete the reactor.”
The researchers estimate that once the reactor is up and running, it can produce 55 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium per year — about ten times what the old 5 megawatt reactor produced. North Korea’s interest in more plutonium appears to reflect its intent to develop new tactical nuclear weapons.
North Korea has been at odds with the international community for many years over its nuclear weapons program. The country is subject to severe sanctions by the United Nations as well as separate sanctions by the United States and its allies.
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