North Korea could be preparing to carry out another nuclear test in response to a resolution from the United Nations to call for dictator Kim Jong Un to be referred to the International Criminal Court over human rights abuses at the hands of the regime.
The BBC reported on Thursday that North Korea issued a statement via its foreign ministry that it would conduct another nuclear test after the UN resolution.
And a US-based think-tank said on Thursday that recent satellite photos indicates that Pyongyang might be preparing to start up its Radiochemical Laboratory, which “separates weapons-grade plutonium from waste products in spent nuclear fuel rods.”
“Imagery also indicates new activity at Yongbyon’s Radiochemical Laboratory, the facility where weapons-grade plutonium is separated from the waste products in the 5 MWe Reactor’s spent fuel rods,” the report says.
“Throughout the summer and into fall 2014 there was little activity at this facility. However, on November 4, steam was seen rising from a large cooling tower at auxiliary buildings just southeast of the plutonium separation building. These buildings contain repair workshops, chemicals for the complex, and waste treatment plants.”
According to VICE News, Joel Wit–who heads the 38North website operated by the think-tank, believes they’ve found several recent indicators that the reclusive, communist country will do another nuclear test.
“In this particular incidence what they seem to have done is shut down the reactor and are probably transferring some of that material to another facility that produces the finished product,” he said, adding that the facility they’re monitoring doesn’t do nuclear tests. But he added: “It’s all part of building nuclear weapons.”
North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and last year.
It’s unlikely that North Korea will be tried in the ICC for human rights atrocities, as both Russia and China are on the Security Council. They have both opposed the resolution.