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IAEA Director General Statement on Recent Developments in the DPRK’s Nuclear Programme

Vienna, Austria

In my opening statement to the Board on 22 November, I reported that we had observed increased levels of activity at, and near, the Light Water Reactor (LWR) at Yongbyon, and also – since mid-October – a strong water outflow from its cooling system. These observations were consistent with the commissioning of the LWR.

More recent observations indicate that this water discharge is warm, which is also consistent with ongoing commissioning of the LWR, a process that takes some time for any new reactor. However, the discharge of warm water is indicative the reactor has reached criticality.  It remains the case that without access to the facility the Agency cannot confirm its operational status.

The LWR, like any nuclear reactor, can produce plutonium in its irradiated fuel, which can be separated during reprocessing, so this is a cause for concern.

Concerning the safety of the LWR, we do not have sufficient information to make an assessment. Of course, safety should always be the paramount issue when starting a new reactor.  Nuclear safety is a sovereign responsibility of the State and the IAEA supports the States in this area.

I repeat that the further development of the DPRK’s nuclear programme, including the construction and operation of the LWR, is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable.

I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, to cooperate promptly with the Agency in the full and effective implementation of its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country. The Agency is ready to engage  on any of the above issues, including safety.


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