North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility appears ready for restart

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Satellite imagery from August 31, 2013 shows steam emanating from an electrical power building at Yongbyon. DigitalGlobe/ISIS

CISAC's Nick Hansen and Jeffrey Lewis have revealed new satellite imagery that indicates North Korea is likely restarting is nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Pyongyang committed to shut down the nuclear site in 2007.

Hansen and Lewis concluded in a story on the popular blog about North Korea, Jeff Lewis on BBC: North Korea's Yongbyon reactor 'nearing operation', that white steam seen from an electrical power building on Aug. 31 indicates that the electrical system is about to come online. Energy is generated from the heat released by the nuclear reactor, which uses steam to power turbines. 

Lewis spoke with the BBC, commenting that: "The reactor looks like it either is or will within a matter of days be fully operational, and as soon as that happens, it will start producing plutonium." He also added that this development could increase North Korea's bargaining power in negotiations, and add a sense of urgency to issues on the Korean peninsula.