Kim Il-Sung Square, Pyongyang North Korea
Kim Il-Sung Square, Pyongyang North KoreaiStock

The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog warned on Monday that North Korea’s nuclear activities remain "a cause for serious concern" as there are signs it might be reprocessing spent reactor fuel to extract plutonium which could be used for weapons.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi made the remark during a meeting of its board of governors, according to Fox News.

"The DPRK’s nuclear activities remain a cause for serious concern," he said. "The continuation of the DPRK’s nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable."

Grossi added that since September 2020, "some nuclear facilities in the DPRK have continued to operate while others have remained shut down."

He said a steam plant that serves a radiochemical laboratory "has continued to operate since my last Statement to the Board in March."

"The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign at the radiochemical laboratory," continued Grossi. "It is not, however, possible to confirm that reprocessing is taking place."

The US, during former President Donald Trump’s term in office, tried to reach an agreement on denuclearization with North Korea. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

The new Biden administration reached out to North Korea but the country did not respond to those overtures.

In Biden’s first policy speech to Congress, the President said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”.

The remarks angered North Korea, which said Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder”.