According to US Intelligence Services, North Korea has started plutonium production and it seems that they have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons. The country has expanded its main uranium enrichment facility and has become capable of producing nuclear weapons.
The assessment has been made by James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence. In his recently published annual report he confirmed that North Korea had increased its production of uranium and plutonium.
The report reads, “North Korea continues to conduct test activities of concern to the United States. Pyongyang continues to produce fissile material and develop a submarine launch ballistic missile”.
The report further stated, “it (North Korea) is also committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States, although the system has not been flight tested.”
Clapper assessed that North Korea has expanded its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarted the plutonium production reactor. It has been operating the reactor long enough and within a matter of a few weeks the country could start to recover plutonium from the reactors spent fuel.
The assessment report has come just a few days after North Korea successfully launched a satellite into orbit.
However, missile experts, according to Reuters, claimed that the technology used in the rocket is old and Pyongyang repeated its earlier success in launching an object into space instead of innovating a new technology. The country, according to the experts, is years away from building a long range missile.
Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said that the recent move made by North Korea is “provocative, disturbing and alarming,” but at the same time could not be considered as “test of an intercontinental ballistic missile”.
North Korea has already conducted four nuclear tests; the most recent one was in January. BBC reported that the country had pledged many times, in the past, that it would stop operations in Yongbyon and even destroyed the cooling tower in 2008.
The scenario changed following a row with the US and after a new UN sanctions over a third nuclear test. Subsequently, the country vowed to restart all facilities in Yongbyon.