North Korea's nuclear programme is going 'full steam ahead' and Pyongyang has restarted a reactor that 'produced plutonium for nukes,' the UN warned today.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month warned of activity around a five-megawatt reactor in the country's main nuclear complex at Yongbyon.
It produces plutonium, one of the two key ingredients used to make bombs along with highly enriched uranium.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday: 'In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, [the] nuclear programme goes full steam ahead with work on plutonium separation, uranium enrichment and other activities.'
North Korea last week warned that the new security pact between the US, UK and Australia, could spark a 'nuclear arms race'.
Pyongyang meanwhile launched a ballistic missile off the back of a train just hours after South Korea carried out its first successful launch from a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Kim Jong Un receives the adulation of his people at a military parade to mark the 73rd founding anniversary of the republic at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang on September 9
A satellite image of the North Korea's main uranium enrichment plant at Yongbyon
Despite Kim Jong Un's aggressive policy, his foreign ministry has decried the new Aukus alliance as one that will 'upset the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific region and trigger off a chain of nuclear arms race.'
As part of new strategic relationship, the UK and the US have agreed to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia.
The deal is widely-seen as an effort to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. Beijing is one of North Korea's few allies in the region.
North Korea suspended its testing of nuclear bombs and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles that could hit the U.S. mainland in 2018, when Kim initiated diplomacy with former President Donald Trump while attempting to leverage his arsenal for badly needed sanctions relief.
Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled since the collapse of a second Trump-Kim meeting in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility. That would have amounted to only a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities.
The North has continued testing shorter range weapons, threatening U.S. allies South Korea and Japan in an apparent effort to pressure the Biden administration over the stalled diplomacy.
Last week, the North tested a new cruise missile it intends to eventually arm with nuclear warheads and demonstrated a new system for launching ballistic missiles from trains.
The North's launches from rail cars on Wednesday came hours before the South reported its first test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The dual display of military might highlighted a return of tensions in the region.
In a separate statement Monday, the North scoffed at the South's test, saying the missile was clumsy and didn't appear ready for military use.
Jang Chang Ha, president of North Korea´s Academy for National Defense, said the rudimentary weapon system designed to fire