North Korea says it plans to restart shuttered nuclear reactor

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 - 8:00am

After weeks of hurling threats at the United States and its allies, North Korea announced plans on Tuesday to restart a reactor at its main nuclear complex that it had agreed to shut down more than five years ago.

The declaration demonstrates Kim Jong Un's regime's commitment to its nuclear weapons program that the international community has persistently but unsuccessfully tried to get it to abandon.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the reclusive state's atomic energy department intends to "readjust and restart all the nuclear facilities" at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Those facilities include a uranium enrichment facility and a reactor that was "mothballed and disabled" under an agreement reached during talks between North Korea, the United States and four other nations in October 2007, KCNA said.

The announcement follows a new strategic line "on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of the nuclear armed force" that was set out at a recent meeting of a key committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea led by the regime's young leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday.

The work of adapting and restarting the nuclear facilities "work will be put into practice without delay," KCNA said.

China regrets Pyongyang's announcement about the reactor, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing Tuesday.

The North's latest declaration comes after it has delivered a steady stream of verbal attacks against South Korea and the United States in recent weeks, including the threat of a nuclear strike.

Pyongyang's angry words appear to have been fueled by recent joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea in the region, as well as tougher U.N. sanctions in response to the latest North Korean nuclear test.

Much of the bellicose rhetoric, analysts say, isn't matched by the regime's military capabilities.


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