North Korea nuclear reactor site threatened by recent flooding, U.S. think-tank says

Satellite images suggest, according to an American think-tank on Thursday, that recently in North Korea floodwater may have created dameges to pump houses connected to the national main nuclear facility.

North Korea’s nuclear backpack – North Korea Victory Day-2013 (by Stefan Krasowski, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

Analysts at 38 North, a website specialised in North Korea, reported that images of August 6-11 from a commercial satellite showed the nuclear reactor cooling systems’ vulnerabilities to extreme meteorologic events in the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

The Korean peninsula has been hit by one of the longest rainfalls in recent history, with inundation and mudslides with damages and victims both in North and South Korea.

Yongbyon is close to the bank of the Kuryong River about 100 km (60 miles) north of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, is home to nuclear reactors, fuel re-processing plants and uranium enrichment facilities that were supposed to be used for the nuclear weapons programme.

The five-megawatt reactor built to produce, as suspected, weapons-grade plutonium, does not seem to be in function from a while, as the 38 North report said, and an Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) has not yet operative, but similar floods in the future would likely bring to a shutdown.

South Korea’s Ministry of Defence refused to comment the 38 North report, but underlined that the situation is monitored in its developments related to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, in close cooperation with the U.S. government.

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