Satellite photos studied by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins show hot wastewater being discharged from Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea, indicating that the reactor is in operation. The plant, which was closed as part of an intergovernmental agreement in 2007, has also doubled in size.
The reactivation of the reactor is seen as a bargaining chip for Pyongyang to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table. If fully restored, the plant, which reprocesses spent fuel rods into plutonium, could annually produce about 6 kilograms of plutonium. Seoul officials claim that this is sufficient for at least one crude fission bomb a year.