North Korea may have restarted a reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, which is believed to have once produced weapons-grade plutonium and had been shut down under a 2007 six-party agreement, several diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
The satellite image analysis showed white smoke, believed to be steam originated from the heat of the reactor, spewing intermittently from the 5-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor in late August, the sources said.
It is still unclear, however, whether North Korea has already started full-fledged operation of the reactor or is still conducting test runs.
If the reactor has gone back online, North Korea would be able to produce an extra 6 kilograms of plutonium a year, an amount sufficient to produce a nuclear weapon, by reprocessing spent nuclear materials from the fuel rods in the reactor after a certain period of operation, according to the sources.
There will be those who say, see, Congress should have backed Obama on Syria. If they had, North Korea would not now be emboldened to re-start its nuclear reactor.
The problem with that argument is the timeline that got us here. A couple of years ago, President Obama said that “Assad must go” but did nothing to make that happen.
Then a year ago, he answered a hypothetical question about Syria’s civil with what has come to be known as the “red line.” A year and several reports of the use of chemical weapons went by, and Obama only decided to act after the August 21 attack. By that time, the Islamist character of the rebellion has become clear. Obama has spent the past week desperately flailing around, getting every move wrong.
And here we are. Putin has set one brush fire to capture the world’s attention, the weapons handover gambit. North Korea looks like they’re setting another one.
You know, it’s almost like there’s an axis at work. And they’re evil.