Activity detected at North Korea nuclear site: US monitor

A February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. (File/AP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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Activity detected at North Korea nuclear site: US monitor

  • Kim earlier signed a vaguely-worded deal on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”
  • Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for the North’s weapons program

SEOUL: Activity has been detected at North Korea’s main nuclear site, suggesting Pyongyang may be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel since the collapse of a summit with Washington, a US monitor said Wednesday.
The possible signs of fresh reprocessing activity last week come after a February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Since then North Korea has said it was mulling options for its diplomacy with the US and Kim said last week he was open to talks with Trump only if Washington came with the “proper attitude.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies said satellite imagery of the Yongbyon nuclear site on April 12 showed five railcars near its uranium enrichment facility and radiochemistry laboratory.
“In the past these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns,” the Washington-based monitor said.
“The current activity, along with their configurations, does not rule out their possible involvement in such activity, either before or after a reprocessing campaign.”
Trump and Kim held their first landmark summit in Singapore last June, where the North Korean leader signed a vaguely-worded deal on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
But their failure to reach agreement at their second summit in Hanoi on walking back Pyongyang’s nuclear program in exchange for relaxation of sanctions has raised questions over the future of the wider process.
The US president walked away from a partial deal proposed by Kim, which included an offer to dismantle the Yongbyon complex.
About 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Pyongyang, Yongbyon is home to the country’s first nuclear reactor, and is the only known source of plutonium for the North’s weapons program.
Yongbyon is not believed to be the North’s only uranium enrichment facility and closing it down would not in and of itself signal an end to the country’s atomic program.
North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing during the diplomatic process in 2018 but the International Atomic Energy Agency has said there were indications that Yongbyon has been in use as recently as the end of February.


Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

Updated 27 June 2019
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Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

  • The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event
  • Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday suffered another episode of uncontrolled trembling, a week after a similar incident that sparked questions about her health.
The latest lapse came hours before Merkel was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The German leader began to tremble as she stood next to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was giving a speech at a ceremony to formally appoint a new justice minister.
The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event.
Merkel folded her arms visibly in a bid to stop the trembling.
She only finally brought it under control once she was able to take a few steps.
She was offered a glass of water but turned it down.
Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.
Despite the latest incident, a German government spokesman said Merkel would not be canceling any appointments on Thursday and Friday.
“The chancellor is well,” he said, adding that she will be flying as planned to Osaka for the G20 summit.
Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.
She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.
There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was briefly interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.
Her spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.