Clapper: North Korea restarted its plutonium reactor

posted at 2:41 pm on February 9, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Surprise! Well, actually, it’s not a surprise. In 2013, North Korea announced their intention to start producing plutonium again in defiance of international sanctions. Today, intelligence chief James Clapper appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to confirm that Pyongyang has followed through on its threat — just days after a successful satellite launch:

North Korea has expanded a uranium enrichment facility and restarted a plutonium reactor that could start recovering spent fuel in weeks or months, the U.S. intelligence chief said Tuesday in delivering the annual assessment by intelligence agencies of the top dangers facing the country.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Pyongyang announced in 2013 its intention to refurbish and restart nuclear facilities, to include the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon and its graphite-moderated plutonium production reactor, which was shut down in 2007.

“We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor,” Clapper said in an opening statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “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.”

This news comes just days after North Korea launched a satellite into space, also in defiance of its previous agreements and international sanctions. CNN reports that the satellite itself appears to have fared poorly, tumbling in space and making itself useless. In terms of a test of long-range ballistic missile capability, though, it’s a rousing success. It succeeded so well, in fact, that South Korea wants an ABM missile shield system in place immediately:

Sanctions already in place against Pyongyang ban it from working with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, blacklist certain figures and organizations and prohibit the import of luxury goods.

Park called the launch a “challenge to world peace,” while her government announced it would begin talks with the United States to deploy a defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which can intercept missiles in flight.

A U.S. defense official told CNN that plans to implement the missile defense system had been accelerated in response to the launch, and it could potentially be deployed within weeks.

Concerned about U.S. military influence so close to its borders however, China has criticized the plans to implement THAAD, summoning the South Korean ambassador following Seoul’s announcement on the system.

Golly, perhaps China should have thought of that before now, eh? Or perhaps the Obama administration should have used that as leverage to get Beijing to keep a lid on Kim Jong-un and his dictatorial regime. The Washington Post editorial board condemned Barack Obama for his passiveness and inattentiveness to this danger:

President Obama’s policy since 2009, “strategic patience,” has failed. The policy has mostly consisted of ignoring North Korea while mildly cajoling China to pressure the regime. As the supplier of most of the isolated country’s energy and food, Beijing has enormous leverage. But Chinese President Xi Jinping appears even more committed than his predecessors to the doctrine that it is preferable to tolerate the Kim regime — and its nuclear proliferation — than do anything that might destabilize it. …

What is needed is a return to the only non-military strategy that brought results: sanctions that strike at the regime’s inner circle. Mr. Kim and his cronies are still managing to import luxury goods from China, in spite of a U.N. ban; they still use Chinese banks to do business with the rest of the world. Those links could be curtailed if China, like Iran before it, were designated as a money launderer and U.S. sanctions were slapped on Chinese banks and other businesses that supply weapons and luxury goods.

Pending U.S. sanctions legislation, already passed by the House and scheduled for a Senate floor vote this week, would mandate these steps, while providing the administration with some flexibility. It should pass, and Mr. Obama should sign it. The administration and South Korea have taken one positive step, by announcing formal consultations on deploying an advanced missile defense system in South Korea as quickly as possible. That sensible step had been on hold because of China’s objections. …

“Strategic patience” is no longer a viable option.

It wasn’t viable in the first place, as events have shown. Obama’s passive foreign policy, often called “leading from behind,” has encouraged Chinese aggression and obstinance on a wide range of issues, and North Korea is only one of those. To harken back to Teddy Roosevelt, speaking softly only works when carrying a big stick and making sure everyone knows you are prepared to use it. Otherwise, all you’re doing is whispering and sending the signal that no one need bother to listen.

 


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Comments

“We’ve tried nothing, but it doesn’t seem to be working and we’re all out of ideas.” -Clapper

Flange on February 9, 2016 at 2:45 PM

If only Kim jung-Un had been in Barack’s freshman dorm smoking a doobie then he’d see how he’s really defeating himself.

jdpaz on February 9, 2016 at 2:45 PM

“President Obama’s policy since 2009, “strategic patience,” has failed.”

Who ever the next President is…

… They have one heck of mess to clean up.

Seven Percent Solution on February 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

Of course they did.

They would have drills about shut down and restarting the reactors anyway, so why not get something out of the USA diplomatically, actually shut down for real, then restart for real and get your nuclear workers the training in those procedures.

Not hard to pull off when Democrats are running the White House and State Department.

Brian1972 on February 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

obama patrons and financiers, the Iranians, are working hard in N. Korea.

China laughs at the US, 3rd world hacks that they are.

The satellite flopped and a few will be executed in N. Korea.

obama is one of these.

Schadenfreude on February 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM

How much help did the Obama administration provide?

darwin on February 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM

The Washington Post editorial board condemned Barack Obama for his passiveness and inattentiveness to this danger:

Are there still people who think Obama is on the side of America?

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 2:49 PM

Obama’s passive foreign policy

Want to see it in action, go see 13 Hours.

Neitherleftorright on February 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Who ever the next President is…

… They have one heck of mess to clean up.

Seven Percent Solution on February 9, 2016 at 2:46 PM

You know who would be great for that? The person who was Secretary of State when all these foreign policies were being implemented!

The Schaef on February 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Who’s more petulant when not getting attention?

The Kim family of dictators?

The Obama family of dictators?

Kimmy wants his $150 billion he saw Iran get!

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Clapper: North Korea restarted its plutonium reactor

Just as Iran will restart theirs when that $100 Billion check clears.

Johnnyreb on February 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Time for President Obama to issue a stern ‘tut, tut’, and perhaps even go to the extreme of stomping his delicate little foot in (feigned) outrage.
But nothing more.
Because Smart Power.

orangemtl on February 9, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Obama’s the real pussy, and unfortunately the whole world knows it.

otlset on February 9, 2016 at 2:54 PM

Obama will find out about it when he reads the paper.

darwin on February 9, 2016 at 2:54 PM

Iran does not need to enrich when they can just buy it from NK. Oh, by the way, Odumbo released the bucks for Iran to do that. Smart power? pc=bs

growl on February 9, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Obama’s policy since 2009, “strategic patience,” has failed.

But not in his mind, it’s all going as planned.

major dad on February 9, 2016 at 2:57 PM

We need to dispel this notion that Barrack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. Obama knows exactly what he’s doing.

Magicjava on February 9, 2016 at 2:57 PM

You know who would be great for that? The person who was Secretary of State when all these foreign policies were being implemented!

The Schaef on February 9, 2016 at 2:51 PM

Isn’t that what the reset button is for?

Teach me how to Bucky on February 9, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Obama, on a golf course in Hawaii, after his retirement :

“Man, the sun’s really bright today.”

Fool

MichaelGabriel on February 9, 2016 at 2:59 PM

So now what? Send Dennis Rodman back with a strongly worded letter?

dentarthurdent on February 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM

So now what? Send Dennis Rodman back with a strongly worded letter?

dentarthurdent on February 9, 2016 at 3:00 PM

Dang…beat me to it…

right2bright on February 9, 2016 at 3:04 PM

Superior Jack*ss Smart Power!

canopfor on February 9, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Obama, on a golf course in Hawaii, after his retirement :

“Man, the sun’s really bright today.”

Fool

MichaelGabriel on February 9, 2016 at 2:59 PM

He’ll be on MSNBC blaming his successor for the massive joint Iranian-Nork nuclear attack on the United States.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 3:10 PM

SAT. Imagery
————————-

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility: Slow Progress at the Experimental Light Water Reactor

By 38 North
14 January 2016
*****************

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by William Mugford.

Summary
=========

http://38north.org/2016/01/yongbyon011416/

canopfor on February 9, 2016 at 3:19 PM

Without foreign policy failure, Obama would have no foreign policy at all. 100% wrong, 100% of the time. That’s noteworthy.

sclemens on February 9, 2016 at 3:21 PM

NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAM
1h
North Korean satellite launched on weekend has stabilized in orbit, says US official – Reuters
end of alert
===================================

Martyn Williams Retweeted
Martyn Williams [email protected]_williams 12 hrs12 hours ago
North Korea’s new satellite might be tumbling in orbit, just like the last one http://www.northkoreatech.org/2016/02/09/report-kwangmyongsong-4-tumbling-in-orbit/
=========

https://twitter.com/northkoreatech

canopfor on February 9, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Are there still people who think Obama is on the side of America?

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 2:49 PM

Oddly enough he seems to hold onto 38-48% approval rating so I guess that tells us the percentage of anti-American crowd and brain-dead among the population.

I can’t even think of 1 success Obama has had other than Osama’s demise which ended up costing us $16T no matter how you look at it.

tej on February 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM

I can’t even think of 1 success Obama has had other than Osama’s demise which ended up costing us $16T no matter how you look at it.

tej on February 9, 2016 at 3:25 PM

Not sure how much the Bin Laden kill had to do with Obama.

Obama ‘cancelled missions to kill bin Laden THREE TIMES after getting cold feet – until Hillary Clinton stepped in’

Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Schadenfreude on February 9, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Thanks for the repeat on a classic diatribe. Helps keep my blood up.

vnvet on February 9, 2016 at 3:33 PM

And, this tidbit:

Feb 8, 8:01 AM EST

NORTH KOREA’S NEW SATELLITE FLEW OVER SUPER BOWL SITE
BY ERIC TALMADGE
ASSOCIATED PRESS
****************

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_NKOREA_SUPER_BOWL_FLYOVER?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-02-08-08-01-37

canopfor on February 9, 2016 at 3:39 PM

Obama ‘cancelled missions to kill bin Laden THREE TIMES after getting cold feet – until Hillary Clinton stepped in’

Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Of course, hilLIARy probably thought the hit would take place in Fort Marcy Park…..

dentarthurdent on February 9, 2016 at 3:42 PM

Not sure how much the Bin Laden kill had to do with Obama.

Obama ‘cancelled missions to kill bin Laden THREE TIMES after getting cold feet – until Hillary Clinton stepped in’

Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Agree but I couldn’t think of anything else and the guy died while Obama was in office if maybe in spite of his actions. Don’t mistake this for me supporting him in any way:)

tej on February 9, 2016 at 3:47 PM

Awesome happy Mardi Gras all! Laissez les bon temps roulez…That schmuck even ruined Mardi Gras. I need a bigger drink

LeeBelieu on February 9, 2016 at 3:48 PM

To be a bit fair, I don’t know of any President that has handled the NK problem well. Although Carter and Clinton seem to have been particularly bad at it.

WitchDoctor on February 9, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Obama ‘cancelled missions to kill bin Laden THREE TIMES after getting cold feet – until Hillary Clinton stepped in’

Obama took SIXTEEN HOURS to make up his mind about Bin Laden mission

sharrukin on February 9, 2016 at 3:29 PM

The only reason it happened the fourth time was because President Jarret ordered Barry off the golf course for the photo op.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 3:49 PM

So another NORKO satellite is tumbling out of control?
I suggest they ask the CHICOMS for help.
We explained THEIR boost to LEO GNC problems when Loral’s Bernie Swartz got the OK from his bud Bill Clinton. The Hughes Satellite folks were absolutely stunned when they were told to help the poor ignorant Chinese with their multi-payload into GEOS orbit insertion problems.
The rest they say is history.
Money for the Clinton Re-election committee and the Clinton Criminal Enterprise.
Stupid Americans.

Missilengr on February 9, 2016 at 3:51 PM

To be a bit fair, I don’t know of any President that has handled the NK problem well. Although Carter and Clinton seem to have been particularly bad at it.

WitchDoctor on February 9, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Want to force the ChiComms to kick the nasty Nork dog into line?

Halt their ships carrying cheap Chinese slave labor manufactured shit at our docks and refuse to allow them to unload until they do what we want…

China needs the money they make from their exports a HELLUVA lot more than they need North Korea.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 3:52 PM

President Obama killed Osama, the worst terrorist in the history of our world…you can’t take that away from him

nonpartisan on February 9, 2016 at 3:56 PM

has encouraged Chinese aggression and obstinance

Uh, what aggression ED?

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2016 at 4:02 PM

Want to force the ChiComms to kick the nasty Nork dog into line?

Halt their ships carrying cheap Chinese slave labor manufactured shit at our docks and refuse to allow them to unload until they do what we want…

China needs the money they make from their exports a HELLUVA lot more than they need North Korea.

ConstantineXI on February 9, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Good luck with that.

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2016 at 4:04 PM

Smart Power.

orangemtl on February 9, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Smart power?

growl on February 9, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Smart Power!

canopfor on February 9, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Well, I came here to post this. Looks like my job is done already.

makattak on February 9, 2016 at 4:10 PM

President Obama killed Osama, the worst terrorist in the history of our world…you can’t take that away from him

nonpartisan on February 9, 2016 at 3:56 PM

He did that all by himself, must not of used a skeet gun at that range.

RickB on February 9, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Thank you, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, for the oh-so-successful deal with the Norks. Now when Iran does its atomic test (thanks for the oh-so-successful deal with Iran, Obozo), we will have the bomb under the control of two mad men on opposite sides of the globe. Just to make life interesting for the next president who has to deal with this crap.

jclittlep on February 9, 2016 at 4:25 PM

.. still wondering why the ChiCom is free to work on its “citizen score” here

corona79 on February 9, 2016 at 4:28 PM

.. still wondering why the ChiCom is free to work on its “citizen score” here

corona79 on February 9, 2016 at 4:28 PM

What is a “citizen score”?

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2016 at 4:38 PM

President Obama killed Osama, the worst terrorist in the history of our world…you can’t take that away from him

nonpartisan on February 9, 2016 at 3:56 PM

Did he use that same skeeter gun he once posed with?

dentarthurdent on February 9, 2016 at 4:44 PM

Actuarially, the PRC deserves every bit of the crap storm coming their way. Think who little ‘sun’ will target first. If I am the current leader in China. I might start sweating….

flackcatcher on February 9, 2016 at 4:54 PM

President Obama killed Osama, the worst terrorist in the history of our world…you can’t take that away from him

nonpartisan on February 9, 2016 at 3:56 PM

Who’s the guy known for “The Rest of the Story”? Well in this case the rest of the story resulted in a complete failure of national and international issues so severe and entangled it will take decades to understand, formulate a recovery plan and execute a reversal of the damage.

I did recall other Obamatives: Gun manufacturing and sales is at an all time high, gas has become unprofitable to even extract from the ground, Global Warming is now the punchline of some great jokes, More criminals are being released back into the public, race relations are at 1960 impacts, Socialism is now a viable future for America, Health insurance is a disaster for 200M Americans to provide it free to 8M, Cell phones are now free, Less Americans are even looking for a job or caring about entering the work world, Trust in government is now history, The national debt has grown so significantly that we refer to the debt of our great grand children now, The IRS finally reached the position of choosing your tax rates based on political affiliation, ……

tej on February 9, 2016 at 4:56 PM

Actuarially, the PRC deserves every bit of the crap storm coming their way. Think who little ‘sun’ will target first. If I am the current leader in China. I might start sweating….

flackcatcher on February 9, 2016 at 4:54 PM

You think NK is going to attack China? Seriously?

DarkCurrent on February 9, 2016 at 5:03 PM

Clapper must be wrong, ‘cuz Presdint Clinton told us on October 21, 1994, that NKorea promised to dismantle their entire nuclear infrastructure for a few billions dollars. The lead US negotiator, Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs, announced her retirement from the US State Department in June 2015 after successfully leading negotiations with Iran to dismantle their entire nuclear infrastructure for a few billion dollars.
Obviously, our intel community has bad information, because the Clintons and the US State Department are soooo good at this stuff.

DublOh7 on February 9, 2016 at 11:50 PM

The democrats have not just been working toward the destruction of the United States – they have set out to destroy the entire world and have been pretty darned successful so far. If one didn’t know better, one could think that they are dismantling American power and position on purpose.

maryo on February 10, 2016 at 10:04 AM