Korea crisis 'has already gone too far,' UN says after North's nuclear reactor decision

Korea crisis 'has already gone too far,' UN says after North's nuclear reactor decision

SEOUL /ANDORRA LA VELLA - Agence France-Presse
Korea crisis has already gone too far, UN says after Norths nuclear reactor decision

In this Sunday, March 31, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed in Tokyo Monday, April 1, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un raises his hand with other officials to adopt a statement during a plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. REUTERS/KCNA

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that tensions had already soared too high on the Korean peninsula and warned Pyongyang against making nuclear threats.

"The current crisis has already gone too far," Ban said at a press conference in Andorra. "Things must begin to calm down, there is no need for the DPRK to be on a collision course with the international community. Nuclear threats are not a game.

North Korea says will restart nuclear reactor

North Korea said Tuesday it intended to restart a nuclear reactor closed in 2007 and hinted it may begin openly enriching weapons-grade uranium at a time of soaring military tensions.

A nuclear energy spokesman said the move would involve "readjusting and restarting" all the facilities at the North's main Yongbyon nuclear complex, including a uranium enrichment plant and a five megawatt reactor.

The North shut down the Yongbyon reactor in July 2007 under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament accord. The following summer it destroyed the cooling tower.

The reactor was the sole source of plutonium for the North's atomic weapons programme. The country's remaining plutonium stockpile is believed to be enough for four to eight bombs.

North Korea revealed it was enriching uranium in Yongbyon in 2010 when it allowed foreign experts to visit the centrifuge facility there.

It insisted at the time that it was solely low-level enrichment for energy purposes.

The mention of "readjustment" by the energy spokesman will fuel concerns that it will be transformed, if indeed it hasn't been already, into a facility for producing weapons-grade uranium.

Many observers believe the North has been enriching weapons-grade uranium in secret facilities for years, and that the third nuclear test conducted by the North in February was actually of a uranium bomb.