North Korea THREAT: US on alert as ‘smoke or vapour’ appears near nuclear complex

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US-based 38 North has been monitoring satellite imagery that shows “smoke or vapour” coming from a building near the Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant. The 38 North organisation said: “Historically, this building was used to recover and purify uranium from yellowcake and, in some cases, from leaching solutions from uranium milling facilities. However, what is taking place now is unclear.”

The 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon is where the reclusive regime has sourced plutonium for its weapon’s programme.

South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Colonel Kim Jun-rak speaking at a briefing in Seoul said: “The South Korean and the US intelligence authorities are carefully monitoring related movements while maintaining close coordination.

“As of now, there is nothing to be noted for further explanation.”

A South Korean military official added monitors have detected activity at the facility since last year.

Kim Jong-un met Donald Trump in 2018 and according to the US President offered to permanently dismantle the Yongbyon facility in return for sanctions relief from the US.

The denuclearization negotiations between the US and North Korea have stalled since the Hanoi summit.

Whoever wins the upcoming US Presidential election will have to deal with a possible resurgence of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

North Korea observers predict the regime may indulge in a provocative act, especially if Joe Biden wins the election.

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Since 2006 North Korea has tested six nuclear devices and three nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Pyongyang has used these to antagonise South Korea and alert the US that they are still a threat to be taken seriously.

Referring to the previous meetings between US President Trump and Kim Jong-un, Markus Garlauskas, a former national intelligence officer for North Korea on the US’ National Intelligence Council told CNN: “There were opportunities potentially having a direct engagement between the leaders but, as things showed, it wasn’t a silver bullet to resolve the issues.”

Mr Garlauskas added the “fundamental obstacle is Kim’s lack of interest in giving up those nuclear weapons, and his willingness to sustain very high cost to keep them.”

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