Minimal activity at N. Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex: U.S. monitor

WASHINGTON-- Recent commercial satellite imagery shows minimal activity at North Korea's main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, a U.S. monitor said Friday.

The only noticeable activity, according to 38 North, is the presence of a boom crane next to the fuel cask transloading port on the site of the experimental light water reactor (ELWR).

"The exact purpose is unclear based on imagery alone," the monitor said on its website, citing imagery from March 22. The crane was absent in imagery from March 19 and by March 28 had been moved away from the ELWR.

"The crane may have been used to load equipment or materials into the reactor dome, to support work on the vent stack or some other maintenance related activity," it said.

The ELWR, which has been under construction since 2010, is intended to produce electricity, according to the North Koreans.

38 North said there is "no direct evidence" to suggest that it is approaching "operational status."

"Activity at the rest of the Yongbyon facility is minimal," it added.

At the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam in February, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to dismantle the Yongbyon facility in exchange for significant sanctions relief from the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly demanded the dismantlement of all of the North's weapons of mass destruction programs, leading to the summit's collapse without a deal.

Last week South Korea's National Intelligence Service was quoted by lawmakers as telling a parliamentary intelligence committee that the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon appeared to be in "normal operation."

Source; Yonhap News Agency

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