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April 8, 2012

Report: North Korea planning third nuclear bomb test

Report: North Korea planning third nuclear bomb test

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

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North Korea is planning to test a third nuclear bomb according to a report in Yonhap, a South Korean news agency. The news agency quoted an anonymous South Korean intelligence official as their source for the report.

“North Korea is making clandestine preparations for a third nuclear test at Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province, where it conducted two nuclear tests in the past,” said the unnamed official to Yonhap. According to the official, recent satellite imagery allegedly shows workers moving dirt and sand to the front of a tunnel at the site which would be used to plug the entrance once the test is ready to commence. “We have confirmed the [mining] work is coming to its final stage,” added the official.

The news comes as North Korea prepares to test fire a Unha-3 long range rocket which some reports suggest could take place sometime between April 12 and 16. Yonhap reports the rocket is thought to have been moved to the launch pad on Friday. North Korea claims they are attempting to send a Kwangmyongsong-3 weather satellite into space. Both South Korea and the United States say they are testing a ballistic missile, an action banned by United Nations resolution. “It is a carrier rocket but not a ballistic missile. … The rocket is equipped with a self-destruction system and thus will not affect other regional countries,” said Jang Myung Jin, in charge of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station where the missile test is expected to take place.

North Korea previously tested two nuclear bombs at the same site. The first nuclear bomb test was conducted in 2006 and the second in 2009. Both tests were conducted within a month to three months after the military test fired long range missiles. North Korea agreed in February to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range rocket launches in exchange for more food aid.



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Pump leak and fire shuts down nuclear reactor in France

Pump leak and fire shuts down nuclear reactor in France

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Exterior of the Penly nuclear site.
Image: Morpheus2309.

According to press releases from the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), Unit 2 of the Penly Nuclear Power Plant in France shut down Thursday afternoon after operators were alerted to “small quantities of burning oil.” The plant is operated by Électricité de France (EDF). Emergency crews were dispatched to the 1,330-megawatt French reactor following an alarm triggered there at 11:20 UTC Thursday. According to EDF, there were “no consequences for the environment” and no one was injured.

The ASN said in a statement the anomaly had been provisionally placed at level 1 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which ranks occurrences at nuclear power plants on a scale ranging from 1 to 7, with 7 representing an event with lasting consequences for health and the environment such as the Fukushima Daiichi disaster following a Tsunami in Japan in March 2011.

The alarm was triggered after two fires broke out in the reactor building. The fires are reported to have been caused by leaks in one of the cooling pumps that are part of the reactor’s cooling system. The source of the fire was determined to be one or more pools of oil which had leaked from one of a pump’s joints, catching fire. They were quickly suppressed and the reactor remains shut down due to damage to the cooling pump.

After the fires were put out, radioactive water was then discovered to be leaking from the pump into the reactor’s drainage bin.The ASN released a statement at 05:00 UTC saying they had received “confirmation by EDF that the leak in the primary pump n°1 of the reactor n°2 at the Penly NPP had stopped.” ASN has undertaken an investigation into the causes of the incident which will later be published on their website. The reactor will remain shut down until the damage is repaired and the cause of the incident is known.

The Penly nuclear site, located on the coast to the northwest of Paris, is home to two Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) units and is cooled using water from the English Channel. PWRs are a common variety of nuclear reactors named for their use of highly pressurized water in their primary cooling systems. All of the 58 nuclear power plants which supply France with over 75% of its energy, are of this type.



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