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World Satellite images reveal North Korea expanding facility used to produce weapons-grade uranium

10:10  17 september  2021
10:10  17 september  2021 Source:   cnn.com

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New satellite images obtained by CNN reveal North Korea is expanding a key facility capable of enriching uranium for nuclear weapons , renovations that likely indicate the country plans to significantly ramp-up production at this once-dormant site in the near future, according to experts who The addition of 1,000 new centrifuges would increase the plant's capacity to produce highly enriched uranium by 25 percent," Lewis said. If North Korea were to upgrade the type of centrifuges currently in use at this plant, it "could increase the capacity of the plant substantially," he told CNN.

North Korea is expanding its capacity to mine and mill natural uranium . Recent commercial satellite imagery shows that, over the past year, Pyongyang has begun to refurbish a major mill located near Pyongsan that turns uranium ore into yellowcake (milled uranium oxide, a first step toward enriched uranium ). A major challenge in estimating the size of North Korea ’s nuclear weapons stockpile is uncertainty about whether Pyongyang has additional centrifuge facilities for enriching uranium . While such facilities may be hard to detect, the expansion of mining and milling near Pyongsan may allow

New satellite images obtained by CNN reveal North Korea is expanding a key facility capable of enriching uranium for nuclear weapons, renovations that likely indicate the country plans to significantly ramp-up production at this once-dormant site in the near future, according to experts who analyzed the photos.

a close up of a sign: A satellite image taken on September 14, 2021 shows construction underway at a North Korean uranium enrichment plant. It shows a wall has been built, work has begun on a foundation, and panels have been removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly enclosed area. © Maxar/Middlebury Institute of International Studies A satellite image taken on September 14, 2021 shows construction underway at a North Korean uranium enrichment plant. It shows a wall has been built, work has begun on a foundation, and panels have been removed from the side of the enrichment building to provide access to the newly enclosed area.

Images captured by commercial imaging company Maxar earlier this week show construction is underway at a uranium enrichment plant located within the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility complex -- changes that could allow North Korea to increase production of weapons-grade nuclear material by as much as 25 percent, Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told CNN.

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Images taken earlier this week by commercial imaging company Maxar show that construction is underway at a uranium enrichment plant located within the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility complex – changes that would allow North Korea to produce weapons - grade nuclear materials If North Korea upgrades the type of centrifuge currently in use at this plant, it “could significantly increase the plant’s capacity,” he told Granthshala. US officials are aware of recent activity at Yongbyon’s uranium enrichment plant and according to two sources familiar with the situation, those incidents

North Korea appears to be expanding its capacity to produce uranium , which could be used to increase its stockpile of nuclear weapons , a U.S. nuclear expert said on Wednesday. In a report on the North Korea monitoring website, 38 North , Jeffrey Lewis said recent satellite imagery showed that in the past year North Korea had begun to refurbish a major uranium mill in Pyongsan, a county in the southern part of the country. "The renovation suggests that North Korea is preparing to expand the production of uranium from a nearby mine," Lewis

"The most recent expansion at Yongbyon probably reflects plans to increase production of nuclear materials for weapons production," he added, noting the ongoing construction is consistent with previous efforts to add floorspace at the facility, allowing it to house more centrifuges and thus, enrich more uranium on a yearly basis.

"The new area is approximately 1,000 square meters, enough space to house 1,000 additional centrifuges. The addition of 1,000 new centrifuges would increase the plant's capacity to produce highly enriched uranium by 25 percent," Lewis said.

If North Korea were to upgrade the type of centrifuges currently in use at this plant, it "could increase the capacity of the plant substantially," he told CNN.

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Washington (CNN):- New satellite imagery obtained by CNN reveals North Korea has recently taken steps to conceal a facility US intelligence agencies believe is being used to store nuclear weapons , a move that could add to the growing sense of urgency from critics who argue the Biden administration needs to The image , captured by Maxar on February 11 and analyzed by experts at the Middlebury Institute, shows North Korea built new structures at its Yongdoktong site over the course of 2020 -- an effort researchers say is likely intended to obscure a pair of underground tunnel entrances that lead to

Satellite images suggest North Korea is expanding its uranium extraction operations as tensions with South escalate. Images taken in the capital Pyongyang show refurbishment of a major mill. The images taken in Pyongyang show Kim Jong-un has begun to refurbish a major mill that turns uranium ore into yellowcake - a first step towards producing enriched uranium . A recent report by U.S. researchers warned that Kim was poised to expand his nuclear programme over the next five years and, in a worst-case scenario, could possess 100 atomic weapons by 2020.

US officials are aware of the recent activity at Yongbyon's uranium enrichment plant and acknowledge those developments could signal plans to increase production of weapons-grade uranium, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

The National Security Council, Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and CIA all declined to comment.

Signs that North Korea is moving to ramp-up production of this nuclear material are also in line with US intelligence assessments about the country's commitment to its weapons program, the sources said. The same is true for North Korea's latest round of weapons tests, including Wednesday's launch of two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, the sources added.

Initial analysis also suggests North Korea conducted a missile launch over the weekend, a three US officials told CNN, one day after it claimed to have test fired a long-range cruise missile with range capable of hitting Japan.

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CNN - Washington (CNN) — New satellite images obtained by CNN reveal North Korea is expanding a key facility capable of enriching uranium for nuclear weapons , renovations that likely indicate the country plans to significantly ramp-up production at this once-dormant site in the near future, according to … SEOUL, South Korea — The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday criticized South Korea ’s president and threatened a … Marko Budiman.

A US institute recently revealed North Korea seems to be doubling the size of its Yongbyon nuclear plant, a key uranium enrichment site. Experts view this as a possible attempt by Pyongyang to expand its weapons program. Located some 90 kilometers north of the capital Pyongyang, a huge complex And its capacities seem to be expanding . Based on satellite imagery , the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) recently revealed that the building containing a gas centrifuge plant for uranium enrichment has been enlarged to twice its original size. In a report published on August 7

Together, the activity has resulted in an exponential increase of tensions in what was already one of the most volatile regions on the planet.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price condemned North Korea's missile launches Wednesday and again called for a diplomatic approach to the issue.

"We have been very clear about what we want to see happen. We are committed to the principle that dialogue will allow us to pursue our ultimate objective and that's quite simply the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Price said.


Video: South Korea tests missiles in response to North Korea's launch (CNN)

More concerns about activity at once-dormant facility

Evidence that North Korea is expanding the size of its uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon will also likely exacerbate concerns stemming from a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report, which said that the country appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor in the same complex.

The report said these were the first indications of activity at the reactor since December 2018, calling North Korea's nuclear activities "a cause for serious concern" and the new developments "deeply troubling."

Photos show North Korea expanding uranium enrichment plant

  Photos show North Korea expanding uranium enrichment plant SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Recent satellite images shows North Korea is expanding a uranium enrichment plant at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that it’s intent on boosting the production of bomb materials, experts say. The assessment comes after North Korea recently raised tensions by performing its first missile tests in six months amid long-dormant nuclear disarmament diplomacy with the United States. “The expansion of the enrichment plant probably indicates that North Korea plans to increase its production of weapons-grade uranium at the Yongbyon site by as much as 25 percent,” Jeffrey Lewis and two other experts at Middlebury Institute of International

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un purportedly offered to dismantle the Yongbyon complex in exchange for sanctions relief during negotiations with former US President Donald Trump in Hanoi in 2019. However, those talks collapsed in part because neither side was willing to budge. Trump's team wanted either ballistic missile or other nuclear sites included in the deal, and Kim refused to accept a trade of Yongbyon for less sanctions relief, Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, wrote in his memoir.

While the site appeared to remain dormant until recently, US officials have broadly anticipated activity could resume.

US intelligence officials have said publicly they expect North Korea will remain a "Weapons of Mass Destruction threat" for the foreseeable future as Kim remains "strongly committed" to the country's nuclear weapons.

Kim, himself, made clear in January that developing lighter, smaller nuclear weapons for tactical uses and pushing forward with production of "super-sized nuclear warheads" are two of North Korea's top priorities.

"Achieving these goals will probably require North Korea to increase the amount of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium available for weapons production," Lewis said.

Intelligence agencies have also assessed that Kim "may take a number of aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape the regional security environment and drive wedges between the United States and its allies—up to and including the resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing," according to the intelligence community's annual threat assessment released earlier this year.

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Recent activity at Yongbyon and a spate of missile tests by North Korea appear to validate both predictions -- reviving concerns about the state of the country's nuclear weapons program.

"The continuation of the DPRK's nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable," the IAEA report said, referring to North Korea by its official acronym, The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

A senior administration official told CNN late last month that the US is aware of the new report and "closely coordinating with our allies and partners on developments regarding the DPRK."

The senior official added, "This report underscores the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy so we can achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We continue to seek dialogue with the DPRK so we can address this reported activity and the full range of issues related to denuclearization."

Renewed criticism of Biden's North Korea approach

Recent actions by North Korea are also prompting fresh criticism of the Biden administration's policy towards Pyongyang from Republicans in Congress.

"Given the Biden-Harris administration's pitiful track record -- it's no surprise that Kim Jong Un now wants his pay-day from President Biden. That's why he feels emboldened to resume testing missiles and restarted the Yongbyon nuclear reactor," Rep. Mike Rogers, top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement this week.

"We need to respond by strengthening alliances in the region, enforcing the sanctions regime, and increasing our investment in missile defense," he added.

Relations between the two longtime adversaries have been frosty since, and both Washington and Pyongyang have been focused on containing the threat of Covid-19 since the pandemic swept the globe in early 2020. North Korea's borders have been sealed to keep the virus at bay, despite the knock-on effects on trade with China, an economic lifeline for the impoverished country. Kim's regime is now reportedly dealing with a food crisis.

President Biden's administration has made several attempts to reach out to North Korea by email to start discussions with Washington, a senior South Korean official with direct knowledge of the situation told CNN.

North Korea has acknowledged receipt of the emails, the official said, but did not feel compelled to respond due to what is seen as a lack of a detailed agenda or any serious indication the US is willing to move the conversation forward from what was agreed upon at Trump and Kim's first summit Singapore in June 2018.

South Korea Faces Tough Choices Amid U.S. Exercise Plans, Threats from North .
A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Newsweek that the country and its U.S. ally "are committed to continuing close coordination to resume dialogue" with North Korea.During a meeting of South Korea's National Security Council standing committee on Thursday, National Security Office Director Suh Hoon urged North Korea not to escalate frictions between the two countries as Pyongyang lashed out at Seoul for preparing to hold military drills with Washington in the upcoming days.

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