North Korea is rapidly upgrading its nuclear facility
Sheetal Sukhija - Wednesday 27th June, 2018
Monitoring group has revealed that the country is upgrading its nuclear facility
Satellite images show rapid upgrades made at North Korea’s main nuclear research facility
The images from June 21 showed several new buildings, including an engineering office
WASHINGTON, U.S. - In the aftermath of the historic summit held between the U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un - the goal to denuclearize the Korean peninsula looked somewhat achievable.
Now, the Washington-based North Korea monitoring group, 38North has released commercial satellite images taken on June 21, days after the Singapore summit - which show rapid improvement at North Korea’s main nuclear research facility.
The monitoring group pointed out that the latest satellite images show that North Korea is rapidly upgrading its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre.
According to the group, satellite imagery shows several new buildings, including an engineering office and a driveway to a building which houses a nuclear reactor.
According to a post on the 38North website, written by Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu, there were also modifications to its plutonium production reactor’s cooling system.
The photos published by the monitoring group come just days after a summit in which Trump said "total denuclearization" was "already taking place.”
Further, North Korea too declared its commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and end all hostilities with its rival and neighbor South Korea, a U.S. ally.
However, 38North has pointed out, "Continued work at the Yongbyon facility should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea's pledge to denuclearize. The North's nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang."
The group posted the satellite images with captions that read that there was no vapour seen from the cooling tower and no visible steam plumes.
Soon after his meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the U.S. President hailed the agreement as "total denuclearization, which is already taking place" even though neither sides presented a clearly defined timeline for the process.
Trump then declared that Pyongyang was “no longer a nuclear threat.”
Before the meeting, in May this year, North Korea met with the South Korean President Moon Jae In and then displayed his intent to keep his vow of denuclearization by blowing up the country’s only nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.
The reclusive nation has staged six atomic tests from this nuclear testing site and while the event of destroying the site was watched and reported by select journalists from across the world - critics had pointed out that the site had been mostly unusable even before Kim Jong Un dismantled it.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Jenny Town, 38North’s managing editor, said on Twitter that the ongoing upgrades at Yongbyon underscore “why an actual deal is necessary, not just a statement of lofty goals.”
Experts have pointed out that the document signed by Trump and Kim Jong Un at the end of their summit had vague wording, which omits the terms “verifiable” and “irreversible” that the Trump administration had previously insisted on - which has now heightened uncertainty over the implications of the deal.
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