N.Korea 'Still Mining Uranium'

  • By Lee Kil-seong, Jun Hyun-suk

    November 05, 2018 09:46

    North Korea seems to have continued uranium mining operations even during denuclearization talks with South Korea and the U.S., the website 38 North at Johns Hopkins University said on Friday.

    The website said a suspected uranium mining and milling facility in Pyongsan, North Hwanghae Province has been in operation until recently.

    Analysis of satellite images taken from 2016 to May this year shows "significant growth in the volume of the mining spoil piles and the accumulating waste" nearby, it said.

    This screen grab from the website 38 North shows the Pyongsan uranium mines and collocated concentration plant.

    Compared with images shot in October 2016, an artificial pond southwest of the plant photographed in May shows that "the water in the newly filled southwest section of the waste pond is heavily stained and the increase in waste material is identifiable with concentration process."

    But it is not certain "if the waste is the byproduct of recently mined uranium ore, the use of existing stocks already on hand at the facility, or raw material brought in from another mine," it added.

    In an annual report in August, the International Atomic Energy Agency said there is also evidence that North Korea is still reprocessing spent fuel rods from its Yongbyon nuclear reactor to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

    Meanwhile, Jason Arterburn of the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in a forum in Washington last week said North Korean restaurants in China have served as "commercial nodes" for several decades and "therefore [can] be associated with other potentially high risk proliferation activities," according to Radio Free Asia last Thursday. 

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