In June 2008, the usually secretive North Korean government made a public show of destroying the cooling tower of the Yongbyon reactor to demonstrate its compliance with a deal to disable its nuclear facilities.
But two months later, as its then-leader, Kim Jong Il, balked at U.S. demands for close inspections of its nuclear facilities, the North started to express second thoughts.
It said it was suspending the disabling of its nuclear facilities and considering steps to restore the facilities at Yongbyon "to their original state."
In November 2009, it announced it was reprocessing nuclear fuel rods as part of measures to resume activities at Yongbyon. It noted success in turning the plutonium it had extracted into weapons-grade material.