Just days after launching a long-range ballistic missile test, and weeks after supposedly testing a hydrogen bomb, North Korea has taken a move that is even more provocative: restarting their plutonium nuclear reactors.
In a statement released in the lead up to his hearing on Capitol Hill, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said:
“We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor. We further assess that North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.”
Clapper later went on to say that the hermit nation is:
“Committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States. We assess that North Korea has already taken initial steps toward fielding this system, although the system has not been flight-tested.”
“Although North Korea issues official statements that include its justification for building nuclear weapons and threats to use them as a defensive or retaliatory measure, we do not know the details of Pyongyang’s nuclear doctrine or employment concepts. We have long assessed that Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige, and coercive diplomacy.”
Under the regime of Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been steadily become more aggressive and brash as ever before. Restarting these reactors for the first time since 2007 is a clear sign that they will not listen to the West nor their northern neighbors in China.
Many leaders and citizens of America alike tend to think that North Korea still doesn’t have the ability to inflict real damage on the U.S. However, that line of thinking is misguided as this map illustrates:
Will military action be needed to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program? Sound off in the comments below!