(AP) — North Korea vowed Tuesday to restart a nuclear reactor that can make one bomb’s worth of plutonium a year, escalating tensions already raised by near daily warlike threats against the U.S. and South Korea.
The plutonium reactor was shut down in 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled. The declaration of a resumption of plutonium production — the most common fuel in nuclear weapons — and other facilities at the main Nyongbyon nuclear complex will boost fears in Washington and among its allies about North Korea’s timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the mainland U.S., technology it is not currently believed to have.
The announcement came as the near-daily saber rattling from the communist dictatorship continued, with new footage of North Korean troops firing at what appears to by target cutouts of U.S. soldiers. Pyongyang has previously released footage showing air strikes on American cities and last week released a photo of Kim Jong Un signing papers authorizing rockets to be aims at cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. The threats have been building since a new round of U.N. and U.S. sanctions followed North Korea’s Feb. 12 underground nuclear test.