North Korea on Wednesday confirmed that it has resumed the production of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor facility. Pyongyang's Atomic Energy Institute, which controls the country's main nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, said, "We have reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor," according to Japan’s Kyodo News.

The statement added that North Korea does not plan to stop conducting nuclear tests as it believes that the United States posed a threat to the country. "Under conditions that the United States constantly threatens us with nuclear weapons, we will not discontinue nuclear tests," the institute told Kyodo, according to Reuters. It also said they had been producing highly enriched uranium required to manufacture nuclear arms and power.

The institute said it had succeeded in producing "lighter" nuclear weapons, and that the government-run organisation was looking to build a 100,000-kilowatt light-water nuclear reactor, according to the report. Inspectors from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed the move, saying the facility had been restarted in June. The reactor was shut down in 2007.

North Korea has come under intense scrutiny over its nuclear programme, with the most recent sanctions against the country being adopted by the UN in March with the support of its ally, China. Earlier this year, the US and South Korea agreed to deploy an anti-missile system in the latter to counter any threat from its neighbour.