By Hyung-Jin Kim :
RECENT satellite images shows North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that it’s intent on boosting the production of bomb materials, experts say. The assessment comes after North Korea recently raised tensions by performing its first missile tests in six months amid long-dormant nuclear disarmament diplomacy with the United States. “The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea plans to increase its production of weapons-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by as much as 25 per cent,” Jeffrey Lewis and two other experts at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey said in a report.
The report said satellite images taken by Maxar shows construction in an area adjoining the uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon. It said a satellite image taken on Sept 1 shows North Korea cleared trees and prepared the ground for construction and that a construction excavator is also visible. The report said a second image taken on Sept 14 showed a wall erected to enclose the area, work on a foundation and panels removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly enclosed area. “The new area is approximately 1,000 square meters, enough space to house 1,000 additional centrifuges,” the report said.