Washington: North Korea has restarted its plutonium reactor and could soon have enough plutonium to create a nuclear bomb, US intelligence chief James Clapper has warned.
According to reports, Mr. Clapper in an opening statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee said that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor.
“We further assess that North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr. Clapper also said that Pyongyang had taken steps towards making international ballistic missile system and is capable of ‘posing a direct threat to the United States’, although ‘the system had not been flight tested’.
The Independent reported that the US-based experts have estimated that North Korea may have 10 bombs, but that could grow between 20 and 100 by 2020.
The development comes days after Pyongyang launched a rocket carrying an Earth Observational Satellite into space. The launch followed successful underground testing of a “miniaturized” hydrogen bomb, though experts remain skeptical.