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N.K. keeps uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon in 'normal operation': NIS

North Korea 15:37 March 29, 2019

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be keeping its uranium enrichment facility in its mainstay nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, in "normal operation," South Korea's spy agency said Friday.

During its briefing to the National Assembly's intelligence committee, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) also said that the communist state stopped the operation of a five-mega-watt nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon complex late last year.

Speculation has persisted that though it has suspended nuclear and missile tests, the North has kept its nuclear program running despite talks with Seoul and Washington aimed at achieving denuclearization and fostering a lasting peace regime on the peninsula.

As for the North's activities at its key long-range rocket launch site in Dongchang-ri on the west coast, the NIS said that Pyongyang launched work to restore the launch pad there in February and has almost completed the reassembly.

The restoration work has triggered fears of the North resuming missile or other military provocations in an apparent show of its frustration over a deadlock in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

Last month's Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fell apart due to their failure to bridge differences over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.

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