N.Korea 'Restarts Reprocessing Plant'

Northy Korea has apparently restarted a fuel reprocessing facility at Yongbyon. Steam has recently seen coming from the facility. Experts had earlier speculated that it would take two to four months for the North to resume operations at the plant.

Fuel reprocessing extracts plutonium, the raw material for nuclear weapons, from spent fuel rods. North Korea has some 8,000 spent fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear facility. If it reprocesses them, it could obtain an additional 6 to 8 kg of plutonium, enough to make one nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, North Korea launched another two short-range missiles on Tuesday afternoon. A South Korean military source said intelligence agencies found that the North launched two short-range missiles into the East Sea from an area near Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province on Tuesday afternoon.

The missiles were a ground-to-air missile and a ground-to-ship missile. The North fired three missiles on Monday afternoon -- an SA-5 missile with a maximum range of 250 km from Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province and two KN-01 ground-to-ship missiles with a range of 160 km from Wonsan, Gangwon Province.

It is also apparently getting ready to launch more KN-01 ground-to-ship missiles on the west coast as well, having declared the West Sea off Jungsan-gun in South Pyongan Province off limits to ships from Monday until Wednesday.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 27, 2009 10:24 KST