U.S. institute: N. Korea may restart reactor soon


WASHINGTON  — A U.S. research institute says North Korea may be just one to two months away from following through on its threat to restart a plutonium reactor that can produce fissile material for nuclear bombs.

But the North’s ability to put the five-megawatt reactor back to work will depend on the availability of fresh fuel rods to power it, and the institute says that remains uncertain.

The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies is basing its conclusions, being published today, on analysis of commercial satellite images, the latest taken May 22.

North Korea announced it plans to restart the reactor at Nyongbyon in early April, amid threats toward the U.S. and South Korea after it faced tougher international censure over its latest nuclear and rocket tests.