The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
Signs of activity at North Korea's mothballed Yongbyon nuclear reactor
Satellite imagery shows release of hot water from mothballed Yongbyon facility
North Korea's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon is releasing hot water, a sign operations have resumed at the facility capable of producing enough plutonium to make one atomic bomb a year.
Satellite imagery taken on September 19 shows water being released into the Kuryong River from the reactor facility at North Korea's main nuclear complex, according to the 38 North website, which is run by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's school of advanced international studies.
"This release of hot water indicates that the reactor is in operation and the turbine powered electrical generators are producing power," said Nick Hansen, who wrote the report.
If correct, the reactor will enable North Korea to expand its nuclear weapons capabilities in defiance of world powers and the United Nations. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency called on North Korea to halt its nuclear activities, including weapons tests and the restarting of the reactor.
Previously, Hansen had reported that satellite images taken on August 31 seemed to indicate reactor activity because they showed white steam rising from a building containing turbines and generators powered by the reactor. That was the first sign that a start-up process appeared to be under way, since there is no independent confirmation from Kim Jong-un's regime.
"We can't be certain" that the reactor has been restarted, "but would there be smoke from an unlit chimney?" said South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok.
North Korea said in April it would restart all facilities at Yongbyon, including the five-megawatt reactor mothballed under a disarmament deal in 2007.