North Korea Won’t Startup Nuke Plant
Since early December 2012 North Korea has launched an earth orbiting satellite, tested a nuclear bomb, re-declared the Korean War and threatened missile attacks on just about everyone.
It is a threat to be taken seriously. The big news resounding around the world today is that North Korea (DPRK) says it will restart its Nyongbyon 5-MW plutonium reactor to gen up its nuclear weapons program.
However, not everything DPRK says can be done. Today’s newest news is proof.
More important, though, today’s announcement tells us something very revealing about their nuclear program that they don’t want us to know…
DPRK’s real nuclear weapons development program is in trouble!
That nuance completely slipped past the world press.
The 5-MW plutonium reactor, shut down in 2007, can’t reasonably be rebuilt!!
A uranium-based light-water replacement reactor, being built in its place on the same site, likely has a problem.
Before and After
Fig. 1 shows DPRK’s 5-MW plutonium reactor back when it was operational. It produced all the nuclear material used in North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests up to now. It is estimated that the North has enough weapons grade plutonium left for 4-6 more bombs.
In an agreement with the United States, North Korea shut down the plant in 2007. The U.S. gave DPRK $2 million to demolish its cooling tower. The tower was destroyed on June 27th, 2008.
Fig. 2 shows what the plant site looked like in early November. It has two important changes:
- The old cooling tower is gone
- A new light-water uranium reactor is being built on the old site
Said in poker term, DPRK went “all-in” with light-water uranium. It threw out the old graphite plutonium and is replacing it with new, and incompatible, home-grown uranium technology.
Building on the new light-water reactor was fast and furious until about mid-November. It went quiet after that; as shown in the at latest Google Earth satellite image as of 1/5/2013.
DPRK’s plutonium enrichment centrifuges were all dismantled. They were replaced with uranium ones in a brand new facility designed for the new light-water nuclear reactor. DPRK has totally abandoned plutonium enrichment.
DPRK’s Nuclear Bottom Line
It would be cheaper and easier just to build another plutonium reactor from scratch than restart the puny little 5-MW messed up one. Heck, DPRK already started 50-MW and 200-MW plutonium reactors and abandoned both.
The light-water uranium reactor has gutted the old 5-MW plutonium reactor site. It is the real threat. It is not a secret. Everyone already knows it’s there. DPRK even gave foreign scientists a tour of the new uranium centrifuges and showed them where they store the spent plutonium fuel rods they used to make bombs.
Yet, today’s announcement didn’t say a peep about the uranium reactor. It is being built with home-grown technology from a copied foreign design. Now, the work site has gone silent.
Something must be wrong. Otherwise, they’d be busier than honey bees in spring working on it. They are not.
DPRK did say they would start-up their uranium enrichment plant again. That is not the uranium reactor. It is almost two miles away. Without uranium from the new reactor then it does no good to have a uranium enrichment plant.
Today’s DPRK announcement is designed for only one purpose… extract concessions from any foreigners foolish enough to provide them.
Its an old threat scam they have run successfully against the United States, Russia and China many times before. Grandpa Kim Ill-sung and daddy Kim Jong-il did it. Now it is grandson Kim Jong-un’s turn. They will keep doing it until it doesn’t work anymore.
With North Korea… things are never as they appear to be.