North Korea is determined to build a new nuclear reactor but Kim Jong-un’s plans of shrinking a bomb to fit in a missile are still a pipe dream, UN watchdog suggests

North Korea has increased its efforts to produce parts for a new nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog warned today.

It is still unclear whether dictator Kim Jong-un has been able to miniaturise the device enough to fit it on top of a missile.

And it is widely believed they cannot yet protect such a warhead from the heat generated when a missile re-enters the earth’s atmosphere.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and dozens of missile tests since the beginning of last year, defying world powers and raising fears of a conflict breaking out on the heavily militarised Korean peninsula.

North Korea has increased its efforts to produce parts for a new nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog warned today

North Korea has increased its efforts to produce parts for a new nuclear reactor, the UN nuclear watchdog warned today

It is still unclear whether dictator Kim Jong-un has been able to miniaturise the device enough to fit it on top of a missile

It is still unclear whether dictator Kim Jong-un has been able to miniaturise the device enough to fit it on top of a missile

A missile test last month put the mainland United States in range. 

Pyongyang later said it had a plan to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory of Guam, while President Donald Trump said any threats would be met with ‘fire and fury’.

Earlier this week, North Korean state media showed Kim standing next to the diagram of an intercontinental ballistic missile more powerful than any it has previously tested.

The image of the three-stage rocket known as the Hwasong-13 suggested he is fiercely pursuing the creation of a weapon capable of striking anywhere on the US mainland

It followed an escalation in the war of words between the country and US President Donald Trump.

North Korea condemned the military drills the US is conducting with the South and branded Trump ‘weird’ and ‘ego-driven’, not long after Trump claimed Kim was starting to ‘respect’ him. 

Kim also threatened to turn the US into ‘a heap of ashes’ in response to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills currently being held in South Korea. 

It is widely believed North Korea cannot yet protect such a warhead from the heat generated when a missile re-enters the earth's atmosphere

It is widely believed North Korea cannot yet protect such a warhead from the heat generated when a missile re-enters the earth’s atmosphere

North Korea recently condemned the military drills the US is conducting with the South and branded Trump 'weird' and 'ego-driven'

North Korea recently condemned the military drills the US is conducting with the South and branded Trump ‘weird’ and ‘ego-driven’

Meanwhile the North has continued to pursue its effort to produce material for nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report. 

The IAEA does not have access to North Korea and monitors its activities mainly by satellite imagery.

‘There were indications in the LWR (light-water reactor) construction yard of an increase in activities consistent with the fabrication of certain reactor components,’ the IAEA report posted on the General Conference’s website said.

‘The agency has not observed indications of the delivery or introduction of major reactor components into the reactor containment building,’ it said. 

The new reactor is expected to be larger than the current experimental one at Yongbyon.

There was no indication in the past year, however, that the Communist state had used the laboratory near its main reactor where it usually produces plutonium from spent fuel rods, the IAEA said.

Kim has threatened to turn the US into 'a heap of ashes' in response to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills currently being held in South Korea

Kim has threatened to turn the US into ‘a heap of ashes’ in response to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills currently being held in South Korea

That appeared to contradict a recent report by a U.S. think tank that said the lab had operated intermittently.

There were indications the experimental reactor had kept running, the IAEA said. Its previous report said the reactor had been refuelled in 2015 and those fuel rods would probably be removed two years later. Friday’s report confirmed that prediction, saying this fuel cycle should last until late 2017.

Even less is known about North Korea’s efforts to produce another material that can fuel nuclear weapons – highly enriched uranium – but the report suggested those had continued at Yonbyon.

‘There were indications consistent with the use of the reported centrifuge enrichment facility located within the plant. Construction work was undertaken on a building which adjoins the reported centrifuge enrichment facility,’ it said. 

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