The National Intelligence Service of South Korea said it believes a “small portion” of the 8000 spent fuel rods at North Korea’s reactivated Nyongbyon reactor have been reprocessed. The CIA has also recently said it believes reprocessing has begun. In April, Li Gun, North Korea’s representative to talks with the USA and China claimed the reprocessing was almost finished.

This latest development further jeopardises the construction of the two PWRs under the 1994 Agreed Framework. The US energy and water development appropriations bill would end US assistance for the project in fiscal 2004. An amendment tabled by Edward Markey and Christopher Cox to remove funding for the reactors was passed unanimously by the House last month.

According to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO), the project is continuing as usual. However, officials at Korea Electric Power Company and heavy equipment vendor Doosan said that they anticipate a further delay of 4-5 years, which would mean that the first reactor is not completed until at least 2012.