Another escalation in already tense North Korean situation

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April 2, 2013, 1:08 pm
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(NECN/NBC News: Richard Engel) - Tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to climb. North Korea announced Tuesday that it is reopening a closed nuclear plant in order to produce material for weapons.

This is yet another escalation in an already tense situation.

North Korea said it would re-open closed nuclear facilities, in particular one in Yongbyon. That contains two locations, one a five megawatt reactor, the other a uranium enrichment plant capable of producing about enough plutonium to produce one nuclear bomb a year.

The plant at Yongbyon had been closed in 2007 as part of international negotiations and to build trust in that process the cooling tower there had been destroyed.

Pyongyang now says it will rebuild the facility; it's unclear how long it will take before it is up and running.

South Korea is very concerned about what is going on in the North; the South Korean government has said it will respond to any aggression from the North with force of its own.

“The current crisis has already gone too far. Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Now, Pyongyang says it needs these facilities to produce some electricity and also to improve the quantity and quality of its nuclear stockpile.

That is a very bold assertion. The other one that it is says it needs to produce electricity there's a problem with that: the Yongbyon plant isn't connected to the power grid, and it never was.

Tags: South Korea, North Korea, Seoul, Ban Ki-moon, NBC News, nuclear weapon, richard engel, pyongyang, yongbyon
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