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Seoul sees no clear signs of N. Korea's building light-water reactor: officials

All Headlines 23:18 November 13, 2010

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has not yet observed clear signs that North Korea is building a light-water reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear facility but is watching related reports carefully, officials said Saturday.

"Recent satellite images of the Yongbyon region have not shown any moves going on for the construction of a light-water reactor," a government official said, requesting anonymity. "But we're watching any moves in North Korea closely," the official said, noting that Pyongyang has so far threatened to build a reactor with its own technology.

Another government source said the North is believed to have begun digging ground in Yongbyon for which the purpose is unknown.

"As of the moment, we don't know the purpose, although we need further checks," the source said.

Japan's Kyodo News reported earlier in the day that the North has begun building a experimental light-water reactor at the Yongbyon site, citing Siegfried Hecker, former chief of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Hecker told reporters in Beijing that he was informed of the construction by North Korea and that the output of the reactor was on a scale of 25 to 30 megawatts of electricity, according to the report. Hecker recently visited North Korea, it added.

In 1994, the United States reached an agreement with North Korea by which several countries were to build two light-water reactors for the North. In return, Pyongyang was to show down its plutonium-producing reactor in Yongbyon.

The deal broke down in 2002 when the U.S. raised the North's suspected uranium program and accused the country of violating the 1994 Geneva agreement.

Seoul officials say the reported construction is a message aimed to press the U.S. toward resumption of the six-party nuclear talks.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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