New thermal images of North Korea’s nuclear research center reveal that North Korea is heavily increasing the production of nuclear material for Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons stockpile.
38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, reported that the scans of the nuclear facility at Yongbyon showed a jump in thermal activity, which would otherwise suggest a rise in plutonium production.
Researchers also detected increased thermal activity, possibly the result of centrifuge operations, at another facility dedicated to uranium enrichment.
From The Daily Caller:
North Korea ramped up uranium enrichment in September, leading experts to conclude that the North could produce six nuclear bombs per year, and the International Atomic Energy Association reported in March that North Korea has more than doubled the size of its uranium enrichment facility in recent years, pushing nuclear material production into a “new phase.”
Observers also noticed possible activity at the Experimental Light Water Reactor, which could be “cause for concern.”
If the rogue state is processing plutonium and uranium, it is very likely the North Korean regime intends to expand its nuclear arsenal, a deeply concerning discovery given North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that some experts assess could strike the U.S., specifically Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest, and possibly even the West Coast.
Fortunately, the country does not appear to be producing tritium at the moment, which is an essential isotope in the production of nuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs.
However, while the facility is not currently operational, experts believe that North Korea has the ability to produce tritium.
“I believe they have made tritium,” Siegfried Hecker explained to reporters in South Korea last month, although he expressed doubts about the North’s ability to develop a hydrogen bomb now. “They can make tritium so they have the basic element for a hydrogen bomb. But it takes much more than that to weaponize hydrogen bombs. I don’t believe they can do that.” North Korea claimed the successful test of a hydrogen bomb last January, but experts are skeptical.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, with two successful tests last year. With each test, the explosive yield has grown, enhancing North Korea’s ability to bomb the countries it considers enemies to pieces, which includes the U.S. of course.
The Trump administration, like its predecessors, is pursuing denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. Trump has abandoned the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience,” and the president and his team are applying “maximum pressure and engagement,” which involves military deterrence, economic sanctions, and diplomatic pressure, to rein in North Korea.