Russia on Thursday warned of a potential “man-made catastrophe” if North Korea restarts an ageing plutonium reactor to boost its stockpile of nuclear weapons, after US experts spotted steam rising from the Yongbyon facility.
The reactor, which was completed in 1986, is outdated and North Korea could suffer a major disaster if it is restarted, a Russian diplomatic source told the Interfax news agency.
The warning came after researchers at the US-Korea Institute said Wednesday that satellite images taken on August 31 showed plumes of white steam rising from a building next to the reactor.
“Our main concern is linked to a very likely man-made disaster as a consequence. The reactor is in a nightmarish state, it is a design dating back to the 1950s,” the Russian source said.
“For the Korean peninsula this could entail terrible consequences, if not a man-made catastrophe.”
The US envoy on North Korea meanwhile said the reported restart of the reactor would be “a misstep on the part of North Korea”. . .