North Korea Says It’s Willing to Give Up Nuclear Weapons But Satellite Images Suggest Resumed Production

On the same day that North Korea reportedly told South Korea it was willing to give up its nuclear arsenal, a report containing satellite images seemingly showed the country resumed production of plutonium.

According to The New York Times, North and South Korea envoys met for two days in Pyongyang, and during the talks, they agreed to host an additional meeting between Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in.

“The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize,” a South Korea statement to The New York Times said. “It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed.”

The statement added that North Korea expressed that it was willing to have a “heartfelt dialogue” with the United States to discuss denuclearization and normalizing relations.

“It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests,” it said.

The New York Times reported the statement didn’t say North Korea would dismantle its nuclear or missile programs, and a report by 38 North, a U.S. think tank, identified the country resumed its production of plutonium.

Plutonium is used for nuclear weapons, and analysts told Stars and Stripes it’s probable the North is trying to show that it will continue its military programs to boost leverage during talks.

The commercial satellite images were taken on Feb. 17 and Feb. 25 at the Yongbyon nuclear complex and reportedly show signs of the five-megawatt reactor operating, as well as a new military camp, more personnel, and two large open-bed trucks.

“It is unclear what specific role this military camp will play, but it could be to support new construction and/or improve site security,” 38 North said.

38 North analysts explained the missing cooling water discharges were likely hidden by an extended pipe flowing into the river. The extended discharge pipe would make monitoring efforts more difficult in the summer when visible indicators decrease.

Stars and Stripes reported South Korea didn’t comment on the report but said it has been “closely monitoring” North Korea’s military movement.

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