North Korea Restarts Nuclear Weapons Facility, Hints at Nuclear Test
For the second day in a row, Pyongyang raised the ante on rhetoric suggesting it might conduct a prohibited nuclear or missile test in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions.
North Korea may conduct either test to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korea Workers Party on October 10. While satellite imagery previously showed preparatory work at both nuclear and missile test sites, there has been no observable activity indicative of an imminent test.
If the regime conducts either test, it will torpedo nascent efforts at inter-Korean reconciliation following a crisis last month triggered by North Korea’s planting of a land mine in South Korea, maiming two South Korean soldiers, and a subsequent exchange of artillery fire.
Seoul and Pyongyang reached an agreement to reduce tensions but a North Korean test would undermine the accord, trigger U.N. Security Council action, and escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang stated on September 15 that it had restarted operations at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The head of the North Korean Atomic Energy Institute told North Korean media, “We have begun to run our nuclear facility, including an enrichment plant and five-megawatt reactors at Yongbyon after performing maintenance.”