DISTURBING satellite pictures show a flurry of activity at North Korea's main nuclear complex just as Kim Jong-un vows to “plunge rivals into despair”.
The recent imagery emerged soon after the brutal tyrant ordered increased production of bomb fuel to expand his rogue state's nuclear weapons arsenal.
The footage was released by Washington-based thinktank 38 North on Saturday and appears to indicate high levels of activity at the Yongbyon site including a new reactor nearing completion.
The images taken on March 3 and 17 revealed increased water discharges coming from the Experimental Light Water Reactor's (ELWR) cooling system.
The thinktank says this is likely to indicate the reactor is nearing completion and will transition to operational status.
The images also revealed further construction on the nuclear site, including new support buildings around the ELWR – reinforcing assumptions it will be operational soon.
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New construction had also started around the Uranium Enrichment Plant, likely intended to expand its capabilities.
The site's main 5 megawatt reactor remains operational with some new construction spotted around it.
"These developments seem to reflect Kim Jong-un's recent directive to increase the country's fissile material production to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal," the report claims.
The news comes as fears grow that North Korea might conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.
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This week Kim Jong-un was seen inspecting nuclear warheads at a secret location amid his vows to build up his country's nuclear capabilities.
The same day he unveiled new, smaller nuclear warheads intended to be fitted onto smaller weapons. It is not known whether these miniature nuclear warheads are fully developed but such weapons are part of Kim's larger nuclear plans.
North Korean state media said Kim had ordered the production of weapons-grade materials in a "far-sighted way" to boost the country's nuclear arsenal "exponentially."
The tyrannical leader also denounced the stepped up military exercises by South Korea and the United States this week.
The US, alongside South Korea, kicked off some of its biggest ever military war games off North Korea's border throughout March.
Kim ordered his troops to be on standby to respond to the "frantic war preparation moves" from the US and South Korea – which he views as an invasion rehearsal.
The US has been busy bolstering its alliances in the region amid North Korea's increasing nuclear threats, with a record-breaking number of more than 70 missile tests last year.
Undeterred, North Korea has been steadily developing and mass-producing new missiles.
Early in March, Kim tested his new nuclear underwater drones, which his regime claims is capable of unleashing a "radioactive tsunami".
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Dubbed "Haeil", or tsunami, the drone system is intended to make sneak attacks in enemy waters. On the drill on March 23, the "secret weapon" cruised underwater for 59 hours before exploding off its east coast.
Alongside Kim's provocative tests, his regime continues to make statements about the readiness of its "nuclear combat force" as they ramp-up testing of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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