MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has detected activity at North Korea’s nuclear facility in Yongbyon, a site capable of producing plutonium for nuclear bombs, AFP reported on Friday.
"Since late August 2013, the agency has observed, through analysis of satellite imagery, steam discharges and the outflow of cooling water at the reactor at Yongbyon, AFP quotes a new annual report of the nuclear watchdog on North Korea.
They also added that though such activity is "consistent with the reactor's operation, since the agency has had no access to the five megawatt reactor since April 2009, it cannot confirm the operational status".
Experts say the reactor is capable of producing 6kg of plutonium a year, enough for one nuclear bomb.
Pyongyang said the purpose is “to produce low-enriched uranium for a new reactor it is constructing”, but experts suspect that the real goal is weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.
AFP says the UN watchdog also “noted further renovations at another new facility at Yongbyon that North Korea is thought to be building for enriching uranium, but that it cannot confirm the purpose of these activities".
The activity was also spotted by the US Institute for Science and International Security last month, also using satellite images.
But the think tank added that "without more data, such as regular steam production, it is hard to determine the operational status of the reactor and thus to estimate the amount of plutonium produced".
IAEA inspectors have not had access to the North Korean nuclear site since 2009.