North Korea has resumed normal operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facility, state-run news agency KCNA reports.

The director of North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute said scientists were making “innovations day by day” and hoped to “guarantee the reliability of the nuclear deterrent”.

The nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon complex was shut down in 2007, but North Korean officials announced plans to resume operations there in 2013, following a nuclear test.

The facility has been the source of plutonium for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, and experts believe it could yield a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade plutonium in 12 months if running at full capacity.

The resumption of the nuclear production facility comes after North Korea announced its plans to launch its first satellite into space. Some commentators fear that the regime is using the launch of a satellite to test the rocket technology needed to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, which could threaten a large part of the world.

However, it is unclear how much progress Pyongyang has made in the miniaturisation process needed to create such a rocket.

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