Connect with us

World

N.Korea can produce more uranium than current rate, report says

Published

on

November 4, 2021

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea can get all the uranium it needs for nuclear weapons through its existing Pyongsan mill, and satellite imagery of tailings piles suggests the country can produce far more nuclear fuel than it is, a new academic study concludes.

Despite a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons tests since 2017, North Korea has said it is continuing to build its arsenal, and this year it appeared to have restarted https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-appears-have-restarted-nuclear-reactor-iaea-says-2021-08-29 a reactor that is widely believed to have produced weapons-grade plutonium.

Advertisement

According to research published last month in the journal Science & Global Security by researchers at Stanford University and an Arizona-based mining consulting company, North Korea may be able to increase production, and has no need for other uranium mills.

“It is clear that the DPRK appears to have substantially more milling capacity than it has been using to date,” said the report, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “This means that the DPRK could produce much greater quantities of milled natural uranium if desired.”

The Pyongsan Uranium Concentration Plant and its associated mine are North Korea’s only publicly acknowledged source of yellowcake, or uranium ore, according to analysts.

The report comes as other satellite imagery shows North Korea is building a large expansion at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which analysts say may be used to produce weapons-grade uranium.

“Given the DPRK’s active nuclear program, it is of utmost importance to assess and understand its nuclear materials production capabilities,” wrote the report’s authors, who submitted their findings in April.

Advertisement

These capabilities govern the rate at which North Korea might expand its nuclear arsenal, determine the magnitude of the threat to international security and the challenge of potential nuclear disarmament, and measure North Korea’s ability to fuel its future nuclear energy program, the report said.

GROWING NUCLEAR ARSENAL

The question over how many nuclear weapons North Korea possesses is a key issue for intelligence agencies in South Korea and the United States, as well as for any talks aimed at limiting or reducing North Korea’s arsenal.

The United States, which wants Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear arsenal, has said it is open to meeting with North Korea without preconditions. North Korea says talks are only possible after the United States and its allies drop hostile policies.

Intelligence on North Korean nuclear weapons is limited, but David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, has told Reuters he estimates the country has the capacity to produce material for four to six warheads a year.

Advertisement

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in September https://www.reuters.com/article/northkorea-nuclear-iaea-idINV9N2IE02B that North Korea’s “nuclear programme goes full steam ahead with work on plutonium separation, uranium enrichment and other activities.”

There have been no reported accounts of outside inspector access to the Pyongsan uranium mine after the IAEA visited in 1992, leaving details of the mill uncertain, the academic report said.

The authors used artificial intelligence algorithms developed by Orbital Insight, a California-based geospatial analytics company, to analyse satellite imagery for land use patterns around the Pyongsan facility.

Yellowcake from the mine and mill is a key component of North Korea’s nuclear fuel production, including its 5-megawatt (MW) reactor, which is seen as capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.

The IAEA and other analysts reported over the summer that the reactor appeared to be operating for the first time since 2018.

Advertisement

(Reporting by Josh Smith. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Germany’s Free Democrats back coalition agreement

Published

on

December 5, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Members of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voted on Sunday by a large majority to back a coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, paving the way for the three-way alliance to form a new government next week.

The coalition, the first at federal level between the environmentalist Greens, the FDP and Olaf Scholz’s centre-left SPD, will end 16 years of conservative governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The SPD approved the agreement on Saturday and the Greens are due to announce the outcome of a member survey on the deal on Monday. The three parties hope the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will vote Scholz in as chancellor on Wednesday.

Advertisement

The “traffic light” alliance, named after the parties’respective colours, will usher in a new era of relations with Europe, and plans to speed up digitalisation of the continent’sbiggest economy and put a focus on fighting climate change.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Continue Reading

World

Gambian President Barrow on course for resounding election win

Published

on

December 5, 2021

By Bate Felix

BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s incumbent president, Adama Barrow, was on course for a resounding election win on Sunday, partial results indicated, that could help to draw a line under recent political turmoil.

Saturday’s vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former president Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

Advertisement

Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny nation of 2.5 million people was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents, had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition in telephoned speeches that were relayed to campaign rallies.

But his lingering influence was not enough to dent Barrow’s showing. The president, who only needs to win more votes than the second-placed candidate, won 36 of the first 41 constituencies announced, taking 315,547 votes.

His nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, had 133,177 votes, with four other candidates far behind.

Only 12 constituencies remained to be announced.

The election was seen as a test of Gambia’s democratic progress and its ability to leave the Jammeh era behind.

Advertisement

Barrow’s first term was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged an economy that relies heavily on tourism, as well as exports of peanuts and fish.

(Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Continue Reading

World

S.Africans protest against Shell oil exploration in pristine coastal area

Published

on

December 5, 2021

By Siyabonga Sishi

PORT EDWARD, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africans took to their beaches on Sunday to protest against plans by Royal Dutch Shell to do seimsic oil exploration they say will threaten marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins on a pristine coastal stretch.

A South African court on Friday struck down https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/shell-wins-court-case-start-seismic-surveys-offshore-south-africa-2021-12-03 an application brought by environmentalists to stop the oil major exploring in the eastern seaboard’s Wild Coast, rejecting as unproven their argument that it would cause “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, especially migrating hump-back whales.

Advertisement

The Wild Coast is home of some of the country’s most undisturbed wildlife refuges, and it’s stunning coastal wildernesses are also a major tourist draw.

At least 1,000 demonstrators gathered on a beach near Port Edward, a Reuters TV correspondent saw.

“It’s just absolutely horrendous that they are even considering this. Look around you?” said demonstrator Kas Wilson, indicating an unspoilt stretch of beach. “It’s unacceptable and … we will stop it.”

Shell officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company said on Friday that its planned exploration has regulatory approval, and it will significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security if resources are found.

But local people fear the seismic blasting conducted over 6,000 square kilometres will kill or scare away the fish they depend on to live.

Advertisement

“I don’t want them to operate here because if they do we won’t be able to catch fish,” said 62-year-old free dive fisherwoman Toloza Mzobe, after pulling a wild lobster from the ground. “What are we going to eat?”

Environmentalists are urging Shell and other oil companies to stop prospecting for oil, arguing that the world has no chance of reaching net zero carbon by 2050 if existing oil deposits are burned, let alone if new ones are found.

Earlier this year, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its planet warming carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, a decision it plans to appeal.

South Africa’s environment ministry referred Reuters to a statement late last month that “the Minister responsible for environmental affairs is … not mandated to consider the application or to make a decision on the authorisation of the seismic survey.”

(Writing by Tim Cocks;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending