(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea has pledged to strengthen its nuclear weaponry by refurbishing its shelved operations at the Yongbyon nuclear facilities.
Analysts believe this is simply another step towards making their message clearer to the world.
“They’re saying, we are a nuclear power, acknowledge it, and treat us as one of the nuclear power players,” said Shin Beom Chul, Director of North Korea Military Studies at Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.
Pyongyang’s spokesman for the General Department of Atomic Energy said on Tuesday that the 5 megawatt graphite-moderated reactor is to refurbish and restart, along with the uranium enrichment factory and other nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. Its cooling tower was blown up in front of invited international media in 2008 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks agreed in October 2007.
“What they are saying is that they will first quantitatively increase plutonium production to build more nuclear weapons no matter what. Nuclear deterrence has officially become their national motto this weekend,” Shin said.
On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared at its parliamentary session that building nuclear weapons and reviving the economy will be nation’s top priorities.
Analysts believe North Korea has racked up 40 kilograms of plutonium — enough to make six to 10 nuclear bombs depending on the level of sophistication in processing technology.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
Faith Karimi and Chuck Johnston, CNN