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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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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Iceland tries to bring back trees razed by the Vikings

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Before being colonised by the Vikings, Iceland was lush with forests but the fearsome warriors razed everything to the ground and the nation is now struggling to reforest the island.

The country is considered the least forested in Europe; indeed, forests in Iceland are so rare, or their trees so young, that people often joke that those lost in the woods only need to stand up to find their way.

However, it wasn't always that way.

When seafaring Vikings set off from Norway and conquered the uninhabited North Atlantic island at the end of the ninth century, forests, made up mostly of birch trees, covered more than a quarter of the island.

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With plant closures looming, GM, Fiat Chrysler warn workers auto industry facing tough future

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With plant closures hanging over the start of contract negotiations, General Motors chief Mary Barra on Tuesday warned the United Auto Workers union that the industry is facing a difficult road ahead.

Barra opened talks with labor at the traditional handshake ceremony, emphasizing that the company must be prepared to change to be better positioned for the future.

"In a transforming industry, if we want our company to grow -- and grow jobs -- we can't keep doing things the same way," she said.

GM has drawn the wrath of the UAW and President Donald Trump over plans to halt production at four US plants including a major one in Lordstown, Ohio, a state that could be key to Trump’s re-election bid in 2020.

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‘White Identity Politics’ and white backlash: How we wound up with a racist in the White House

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Today's Republican Party is the largest, most powerful and most dangerous white racist organization in the United States -- if not the world. Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is its leader. These are plain if not understated facts. No embellishment is needed. The examples are many.  Over the last few days Donald Trump has repeatedly dug into his bucket of racist political scatology, saying on Twitter and elsewhere that four nonwhite members of Congress ("Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen," as he mockingly put it) should leave America and go back to their own "crime infested" and "totally broken" countries.

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