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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.

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.

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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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Stop praising anti-Trump evangelicals: Their embrace of authoritarianism is a big part of the problem

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At this critical moment for American democracy our media landscape is doing a poor job in its coverage of conservative white evangelicals. Coverage of this relatively large segment of the population is characterized by, on the one hand, effusive praise for the slightest milquetoast criticism of Donald Trump, and on the other, by a periodic parade of nearly interchangeable unfounded predictions about how evangelical youth are going to change America’s most radically right-wing demographic for the better—any day now. In the words of the great sage Bullwinkle J. Moose, “This time for sure!”

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2020 Election

Intel official who briefed lawmakers on latest Russian meddling targeted for ouster by Trump White House: CNN

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During a discussion on the war on the intelligence community being waged by the Donald Trump's White House, CNN host Victor Blackwell stated that sources speaking with the network stated that the intel official who briefed lawmakers for both parties on new efforts by Russia to meddle in U.S. elections could be on the way out.

Speaking with contributor Lynn Sweet, Blackwell asked about the so-called "purge" being conducted by the White House.

"It sends the signal once again that President Trump is not a respecter of the United States intelligence services with the bigger issue that a permanent director has not been in that office since last summer when Dan Coates was forced out," Sweet explained. "This is a key position, subject to Senate confirmation and Trump hasn't seen fit to have a permanent director for months now."

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2020 Election

Trump’s latest national security adviser is undercutting FBI Director Wray to quash report of new Russian meddling: report

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In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, historian David Rothkopf accused Donald Trump's latest national security director, Robert O'Brien, of undercutting the United States intelligence services and uses his comments about recent reports of new Russian election meddling to make the case that he is contradicting FBI Director Christopher Wray to please the president.

According to Rothkopf, "For just over a century, since America arrived as a major force on the global stage, we have feared that should our enemies defeat us, it would be on the battlefield or via a devastating nuclear onslaught. We never could have imagined that an enemy might take another approach altogether: infecting us with a presidential virus who this week gutted our national security leadership structures like a fish."

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