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Pyongyang warns it could build nuclear plant


Seoul : North Korea Tuesday said it could build a light-water nuclear plant and produce its own fuel as a reaction to Washington and Seoul allegedly adopting a strategy of waiting for the collapse of the Stalinist regime.

“The DPRK will witness the appearance of a light-water reactor power plant relying on its own nuclear fuel in the near future in the 2010s,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea had time on its side, KCNA said. While the US was waiting for its system to collapse, the communist state reacted with two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009 – which Pyongyang claimed were successful – and several long-range missile tests.

The statement is regarded a warning that the North could return to uranium enrichment unless Washington speeds up the stalled negotiations.

Enriched uranium is a precursor for nuclear fuel, but, if enriched to a higher degree, can be used for weaponisation purposes.

Last April, North Korea’s foreign ministry hinted that once Pyongyang decided to build a light-water reactor, the country would immediately commence research and development for producing nuclear fuel.

Light-water reactors use water as a coolant and to slow down neutrons. Uranium to fuel this kind of reactor is enriched to only about three percent.

Pyongyang walked away from multilateral talks to end its nuclear programmes in April, following months of stalling, after the UN condemned its satellite launch.

Since then the isolated communist state has sent varying signals on its willingness to re-engage in talks, but has refused to do so until UN sanctions are lifted and Washington agrees to start negotiations on a peace treaty to replace the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

KCNA also slammed media reports on the health problems of the North’s leader Kim Jong Il, a botched currency reform and food shortages, dismissing them as propaganda. “These slanders explain why the US uses the waiting strategy. Because they believe that our regime won’t last long,” KCNA said.

KCNA added that the reports were also aimed at keeping the North’s economy down. “By hindering foreign money getting into our country, they want to keep our economic vitalisation efforts at bay.”