North Korea vows to restart nuclear facilities
SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea on Tuesday threatened to restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material, as a U.S. Navy destroyer heads to the region.
The reactor has been offline since 2007 as part of international nuclear disarmament talks that have since stalled.
A spokesman for the North's General Department of Atomic Energy said scientists will quickly begin "readjusting and restarting" the facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex, including the plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
North Korea said work to restart the facilities would begin "without delay." Experts estimate it could take anywhere from three months to a year to reactivate the reactor.
In recent weeks, North Korea has threatened to launch attacks against the U.S., declared a state of war on the South and pronounced nuclear weapons a top priority.
The latest announcement will boost concerns in Washington and among its allies about North Korea's timetable for building a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the United States, although it is still believed to be years away from developing that technology.
On Monday, the Pentagon moved a guided missile destroyer and high-tech radar device into the waters off the North Korean coast.
Officials believe young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is trying to intimidate his neighbors and bolster his image as a powerful military commander at home.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said North Korea appears to be "on a collision course with the international community." Speaking in Andorra, the former South Korean foreign minister said the crisis has gone too far, and international negotiations are urgently needed.
Even China, North Korea's only major economic and diplomatic supporter, expressed disappointment.
"We noticed North Korea's statement, which we think is regrettable," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
north korea, world news
- Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital 41 min ago
- 'Family Annihilator' fugitive could be in California
- Malos Hechos the target of Fresno police
- Bogus Fresno Bee letter adds intrigue to DA campaign
- Investigators conduct tests with FedEx truck, bus
- One of Fresno's ten most wanted criminals arrested
- Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry
- Gas prices rise as temperatures heat up
- Salmon moved on the San Joaquin River
- 59 Days of Code competition encouraging developers
- Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87
- Bloody suspect caught by Madera neighbors
- 'Real Housewives' star Porsha Williams arrested
- 'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works?
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos