North Korea may have resumed production of plutonium for its nuclear weapons program, 38 North, which monitors the reclusive state, said Monday after one of Pyongyang’s nuclear reactor showed signs of operation. The report comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and envoys for South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for an “openhearted talk” amid tensions between the Koreas over North’s growing nuclear activities.
On Tuesday, the North said it had a “satisfactory” meeting with South Korean officials the first that took place since Kim took power after his father’s death in late 2011. The meeting was also the latest sign that the Koreas are trying to mend ties.
However, 38 North reported Monday that commercial satellite imagery from Feb. 25 showed activity around the 5 MWe reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.
“A steam vapor plume was observed at the 5 MWe reactor on imagery from both Feb. 17 and 25,” the website said. “Such plumes have generally been a useful indicator of reactor operations, however, they were usually accompanied by a cooling water discharge near the river outfall.”