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Think tank: North Korea has already restarted plutonium reactor

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North Korea has already begun work to restart a plutonium production reactor in a sign that its confrontational rhetoric may not all be bluster, a US think tank said Wednesday.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said that a satellite photograph seen on March 27 indicated construction at the plutonium reactor at Yongbyon, which was shut down in 2007 as part of a US-backed agreement.

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The analysis comes one day after North Korea announced it would restart all facilities at Yongbyon, one of a string of recent bellicose statements that included a warming that it will attack the United States with nuclear weapons.

Writing on the institute’s 38 North blog, researchers said that the photograph showed what appeared to be construction along a road and near the back of the reactor building aimed at restoring vital cooling functions.

The construction may indicate that the North Koreans are connecting a secondary cooling system at the reactor to a facility built for a separate light water reactor that is located nearby.

Such a move is necessary because North Korea in 2008 demolished the cooling tower in a bid to give visible proof of its denuclearization as it tried to seal an accord with then US president George W. Bush’s administration.

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Analysts Nick Hansen and Jeffrey Lewis wrote that the construction would offer a faster way to restore production at the reactor, which can produce 13 pounds (six kilograms) of plutonium a year once operational.

North Korea, led by young leader Kim Jong-Un, has vowed to restore its nuclear weapons program and to attack the United States and its allies as part of a worsening crisis.

North Korea voiced outrage over US-led criticism of a rocket launch it carried out in December that put a small satellite into orbit. The regime undertook its third nuclear test in February.

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2020 Election

Trump slams ‘partisan’ whistleblower, Biden pushes back

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US President Donald Trump on Friday vigorously rejected a whistleblower's claim of wrongdoing, amid reports he used a call with Ukraine's president to pressure him to investigate the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The whistleblower's secret complaint has triggered a tense showdown between Congress, whose Democratic leaders are demanding to review the complaint, and the executive branch which has barred them from doing so.

It has also raised concerns Trump sought to strong-arm Ukraine into providing damaging information on the president's possible 2020 challenger, which would represent dangerous foreign meddling in the US election -- similar to the interference blamed on Russia in 2016, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

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Dem senator accuses the FBI of a carrying out a ‘cover-up’ for Brett Kavanaugh — and calls for an investigation

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angry Brett Kavanaugh

Old wounds were reopened this week when a New York Times article, written by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, focused on Deborah Ramirez — one of the women who, in 2018, accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, in a USA Today op-ed published on Friday, argued that Kavanaugh wasn’t adequately vetted as he should have been.

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Millions around the world joined #ClimateStrike — demanding bold climate action

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Masses of children skipped school Friday to join a global strike against climate change that teen activist Greta Thunberg said was "only the beginning" in the fight against environmental disaster.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

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