A recent satellite photograph of North Korea’s primary nuclear facility appears to show a mysterious smoke billowing out of one of the plant’s buildings.
North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center had ground all operations at the facility to a halt following a catastrophic flood in the area.
The plant had been under repair but on October 27, 2020, satellite photos appeared to show “vapours or smoke coming from the top of a building,” think tank 38 North has claimed.
Photos taken by Maxar Technologies satellites have led analysts to believe the building is a furnace used to produce uranium dioxide.
Uranium dioxide is a material that “can be used for power plant fuel or further enriched for use in nuclear weapons or to simply create more efficient fuel.”
The discovery has “puzzled” analysts who say smoke or gas has never been observed in the uranium enrichment plant complex building before.
38 North wrote: “The most puzzling observation is what the website calls gaseous effluent – i.e., vapours or smoke – coming from the top of a building in the uranium enrichment plant complex where such effluent has never before been observed.
“According to the analysts, the building is a refractory furnace used to produce uranium dioxide, a material that can be used for power plant fuel or further enriched for use in nuclear weapons or to simply create more efficient fuel.”
As well as this, the photos show Kim Jong-un’s nuclear site has a new building under construction in the area where research and administrative is understood to be housed.
Several analysts have notice specialised rail cars near the nuclear plant have been deployed, which have reportedly been unused at the facility for months.
Pyongyang has offered to dismantle the site during its denuclearisation negotiations with the United States.
The deal fell apart when Washington was unwilling to trade dismantling of the site for relief from its crushing economic sanctions against North Korea.
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