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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on June 10)

All News 07:18 June 10, 2016

Reining in North Korea
Pyongyang seen producing more plutonium

It is apparent that North Korea does not intend to give in to the international sanctions against its nuclear and missile provocations. The latest evidence of this is the intelligence reports that it is producing more weapons-grade plutonium.

The latest report came from the U.S. State Department, in which officials were quoted by the news agency Reuters as saying that North Koreans were producing plutonium by reprocessing fuel spent at the 5-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon.

It came one day after similar comments made by the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Yukiya Amano said that the North could have started nuclear reprocessing and that his position is based on analysis of satellite images and other data on the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.

Before these latest developments, there had been reports about fresh nuclear activity at the site, including satellite imagery of smoke coming from a coal-fired plant supplying steam to reprocess spent fuel.

In February, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the North had expanded its uranium-enrichment facility and restarted the 5-megawatt reactor, which had been operating long enough to yield spent fuel for plutonium "within a matter of weeks to months."

All this shows that the North -- as its leader Kim Jong-un had pledged -- will highly likely conduct more nuclear tests. As if to counter the U.N.-led sanctions, Kim showed up in state media that reported claims of success in the development of a miniaturized nuclear warhead and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Most recently, he sent a senior ruling party official to China, where the envoy publicly reiterated his country's policy to pursue nuclear weapons development along with economic progress. Obviously, Kim wanted to cause a crack in the international sanctions, which China has joined.

All in all, the North will not yield to international pressure for the time being, and in the worst-case scenario, will opt for more provocations. South Korea should lead international efforts to prevent and punish any further provocations.

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