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Terrorism & Security

North Korea announces reprocessing of more nuclear weapons fuel

North Korea's announcement that it had processed more nuclear weapons fuel for use in another atomic weapon is seen as an attempt to reinforce its demand that the US engage in bilaterial disarmament talks.

By Huma Yusuf / November 3, 2009

North Korea announced Tuesday that it had reprocessed spent fuel rods, like these, for use in an atomic weapon.

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North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully reprocessed fuel rods to produce enough arms-grade plutonium for use in another atomic weapon. The state began reprocessing the spent fuel rods in April when it reversed disarmament actions agreed to in 2007 and 2008. Analysts see the announcement as an attempt to put pressure on the US for bilateral talks, which could lead to the resumption of six-party disarmament negotiations.

According to the Guardian, the reprocessing of fuel rods was completed at the Yongbyon nuclear plant.

"We have finished reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods as of August. We have made substantial achievements in weaponising plutonium from the extraction," Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said….
Experts said North Korea might be able to produce enough material for one more atomic weapon from the fuel rods cooling at the Soviet-era plant, which was being taken apart under a disarmament-for-aid deal.

The announcement comes a day after North Korea repeated its call for direct talks with the US. On Monday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman threatened that North Korea would "go its own way" if the US declined to participate in direct talks, reported The Christian Science Monitor.

The message represents a clear attempt to ratchet up pressure on the US as North Korea pursues its longtime goal of negotiating with the US while isolating South Korea. North Korea has long sought dialogue with the US, never more so than in recent weeks. The question is whether the North, if talks are not held soon, will precipitate another "crisis."…
North Korea's strongly worded remarks appeared as a follow-up to an uncertain meeting in New York on Oct. 24 between Ri Gun, the second-ranking North Korean nuclear negotiator, and Sung Kim, the US nuclear negotiator who ranks second to Stephen Bosworth, US special envoy on Korea.
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