US monitor detects ‘possible nuclear activity’ at North Korea site
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US monitor detects ‘possible nuclear activity’ at North Korea site

The Center for Strategic and International Studies said on Wednesday that satellite imagery of the Yongbyon nuclear site had showed railcars near its uranium enrichment facility and radiochemistry laboratory last week. “In the past these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns,” it said. “The current activity, along with their configurations, does not rule out their possible involvement in such activity, either before or after a reprocessing campaign.” Yongbyon, about 100 kilometers north of the capital, Pyongyang, is home to the North’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for the country’s weapons program. During the second summit between US President Donald Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-un, which was held in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, in February, Kim proposed a deal that included an offer to dismantle the Yongbyon complex. Trump, however, walked away from the summit, claiming that Kim had insisted on the removal of all sanctions on North Korea in return. Pyongyang rejected that account, stressing that it had only asked for a partial lifting of the bans. Pyongyang has suspended its nuclear and missile testing in a unilateral goodwill gesture. But diplomacy with the US has effectively stopped following the collapse of the Hanoi summit. A senior North Korean official warned in March that Kim might reconsider the test freeze unless Washington made concessions of its own. Kim said last week that the failure in Hanoi raised the risks of reviving tensions, saying he would wait “till the end of this year” for Washington to decide to be more flexible. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, rejected that demand on Monday. Pompeo said Kim should keep his promise to give up his nuclear weapons before then. Kim has only pledged to “work toward” denuclearization, and no deadline has been set. Trump said earlier that he was considering a potential third summit with Kim. The North’s leader, however, said he had no interest in a third summit if it was going to be a repeat of Hanoi.

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