WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last week's satellite imagery shows movement at North Korea's key nuclear facility, which could be linked to the reprocessing of radioactive material into bomb fuel, a US think tank said Tuesday.
A view of what researchers from Beyond Parallel, a CSIS project, describe as a radiochemistry laboratory at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in North Pyongan Province, North Korea, in this commercial satellite image taken on April 12, 2019, and published on April 16, 2019. April was published. 2019. CSIS / Beyond Parallel / DigitalGlobe 2019 on REUTERS
Any new reprocessing activity would underline the failure of a second summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi at the end of February to move towards North Korean denuclearization To make progress.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said in a report that satellite images of the North Korean Yongbyon nuclear power plant on April 12 showed five specialized railcars near their uranium enrichment center and radiochemistry lab.
She said her move could indicate the transfer of radioactive material.
"In the past, these special railcars had apparently been linked to the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns," the report said. "The current activity, together with its configurations, precludes any involvement in such activity either before or after a reprocessing campaign."
US Department of State refuses to comment on intelligence matters, but a US-trusted source According to government estimates, US experts believe the moves may be related to reprocessing.
Jenny Town, a North Korean expert in the Think Tank at the Stimson Center, said that a recast in the face of US-North Korean talks last year and the lack of a future agreement would be important to Yongbyon in Hanoi.
"Since there was no agreement with North Korea on Yongbyon, it would be an interesting timing if they had started something to Hanoi so quickly," she said.
Trump met Kim twice last year to convince him to abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, but so far little progress has been made.
The talks in Hanoi collapsed after Trump proposed a "big deal" that would lift sanctions on North Korea if it turned over all its nuclear weapons and fissile material to the United States. He denied partial denuclearization steps offered by Kim and offered to mine Yongbyon.
Although Kim has frozen in rocket and nuclear tests since 2017, North Korean authorities have continued to produce fissile material that can be used for bombs.
Last month, a senior North Korean official warned that Kim could freeze the test unless Washington made concessions.
Last week, Kim said the collapse of Hanoi has increased the risks of reviving tensions and added that he was only interested in hitting Trump again if the United States came to it with the right attitude.
Kim said he would wait "until the end of this year" until the United States decides to be more flexible. On Monday, Trump and his foreign minister Mike Pompeo rejected this request. Pompeo said Kim should live up to his promise to give up his nuclear weapons before that.
Town said new reprocessing work in Yongbyon would underscore the importance of the plant's North Korean nuclear program.
"It would emphasize that it is an active facility that increases the North Korean fissile material reserves to increase their arsenal."
A study by the Stanford University Center for International Security The collaboration released before the Hanoi summit said North Korea would continue to produce bomb fuel in 2018 and possibly produced enough to include seven nuclear weapons in its arsenal last year.
Experts estimate the size of the North Korean nuclear arsenal at 20 to 60 warheads.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Tom Brown and Grant McCool