Floods Damage Cooling Systems at North Korea's Yongbyon Nuclear Site - Report

Yongbyon is home to nuclear reactors that are thought to be used in the country's nuclear weapons programme.

The recent flooding in North Korea may have damaged pump houses connected to the reclusive nation's main nuclear facility, according to reports. According to analysts at 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center's nuclear reactor cooling systems may have been impacted, Reuters reported.

The facility is located on the bank of the Kuryong River about 100 km (60 miles) north of North Korea's capital, Pyongyang. The Korean peninsula has been hammered by one of the longest rainy spells in recent history, with floods and landslides causing damage and deaths in both North and South Korea.

Yongbyon is home to nuclear reactors, fuel re-processing plants and uranium enrichment facilities that are thought to be used in the country's nuclear weapons programme, the news agency said.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un giving his speech Reuters

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"Damage to the pumps and piping within the pump houses presents the biggest vulnerability to the reactors .. If the reactors were operating, for instance, the inability to cool them would require them to be shut down," the think tank said.

While there was further flooding downstream, it did not appear to reach the Yongbyon facility's Uranium Enrichment Plant and by August 11 the waters appear to have somewhat receded, 38 North said.

North Korea's state media has not mentioned any damage to Yongbyon, but reported this week that senior leaders had been touring flood-stricken areas, delivering aid and providing guidance on how to prevent the high waters from damaging crops.

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A North Korean nuclear plant is seen before demolishing a cooling tower (R) in Yongbyon, in this photo taken June 27, 2008 and released by Kyodo Reuters

South Korea's Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the 38 North report, but said it is always monitoring developments related to North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes and maintaining close cooperation with the U.S. government.

At a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam in 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to dismantle here Yongbyon in exchange for relief from a range of international sanctions imposed over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

At the time Trump said he rejected that deal because Yongbyon is only one part of the North's nuclear programme, and was not enough of a concession to warrant loosening so many sanctions.

(With Reuters Inputs)