Satellite images show North Korea has taken a “major step” in building up a new nuclear reactor.
It appears a dome has now been put over the reactor building at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre.
North Korea has a chequered nuclear past: withdrawing from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, in 2008 it then destroyed the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor as a goodwill gesture. However it began building a new pressurized light water reactor at the same site two years later.
Some commentators fear the communist power wants to use its nuclear power capability to develop weapons-grade plutonium.
The recent development at the country’s nuclear power base, situated about 90km north of the capital, Pyongyang, was highlighted in a report from analysts at IHS.
Allison Puccioni, Image Analyst, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly said: “The issue is cut-and-dry: Yongbyon’s nuclear reactor dome was lying on the ground beside the building for a year; now it has been hoisted into place on top of the building.”
Nuclear power generation is still some years off, she added: “The emplacement of the dome is a significant development, although it may take several more years for the facility to be completed and brought into full operation.”