'Deeply troubling': UN atomic agency raises concern over North Korea's nuclear activities
The UN atomic agency has raised concerns over the nuclear activities of North Korea, saying there were indications of the operation of its main nuclear reactor used to produce weapon fuels. The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report that indications of the operation of the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon Site from mid-February to early July 2021 are consistent with previous reprocessing campaigns of irradiated fuel discharged from the 5-megawatt reactor at the same site.
“The DPRK’s nuclear activities continue to be a cause for serious concern. Furthermore, the new indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor and the Radiochemical Laboratory are deeply troubling,” the report noted.
The UN Security Council has passed multiple resolutions to impose a wide range of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear activities but the secretive regime continues to violate international regulatory norms.
The United States and several other countries have imposed separate sanctions but that hasn’t deterred North Korea from nuclear tests and missile programmes. The 5-megawatt reactor is widely believed to have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons and is at the heart of North Korea's nuclear programme, reported news agency ANI.
“The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable,” the IAEA director-general said.
The IAEA called upon Pyongyang to comply fully with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions and cooperate promptly with the atomic agency in the full and effective implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement.
On Monday, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was aware of the reports from North Korea "and concerned by the latest developments."
"He calls for the DPRK to refrain from any nuclear weapons-related activities and to resume talks with the other parties concerned,” Dujarric said. "Diplomatic engagement remains the only pathway to sustainable peace and complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
(With agency inputs)