DPRK's key reactor seems idle for months: IAEA chief

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Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaks during a press conference in Vienna, Austria, on March 4, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

The reactor that has produced the bulk of the plutonium for the nuclear programs in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has seemed idle for a few months, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Monday.

"The agency has not observed any indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor since early December 2018," the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog told the IAEA policy-making Board of Governors meeting this week.

At the radiochemical laboratory that separates plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel, there were no indications of such reprocessing activities, said Amano.

At the same time, a facility widely believed to be used for uranium enrichment, a process that can also produce weapons-grade material, appeared to be operating, and ongoing construction work was observed on a light-water reactor, he said.

"However, without access, the Agency cannot confirm the nature and purpose of these activities," he added.

The IAEA is closely following international developments on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula and ready to undertake a verification and monitoring work if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned, he noted.

The IAEA chief also said that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal made with major countries in 2015 aimed at preventing the Mideast country from building nuclear weapons.

"Iran was implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," he said. "It is essential that Iran continues to fully implement those commitments."

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