North Korea bans IAEA monitors from all nuclear facilities

October 9th, 2008 - 10:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Oct 9 (DPA) North Korea has banned inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from all facilities at its nuclear complex in Yongbyon, the agency said Thursday.According to an IAEA document sent to member states, Pyongyang told inspectors Thursday: “Since it is preparing to restart the facilities, Agency monitoring of the shut down and sealing of these facilities … is no longer appropriate.”

The reclusive communist regime also announced it had stopped disabling its nuclear facilities.

Two weeks ago, Pyonyang started limiting inspectors’ access in Yongbyon by stopping IAEA monitoring of its plutonium reprocessing facility.

Experts with the Vienna-based agency are permanently stationed at the nuclear complex to make sure it remains shut down as agreed under the six-party agreement.

After its nuclear weapons test in 2006, North Korea agreed in 2007 with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea to freeze and disable its nuclear facilities in exchange for energy aid and an easing of sanctions.

“IAEA inspectors will remain in Yongbyon pending further information by the DPRK,” said IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire, referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Besides the reprocessing plant that was used to produce plutonium for North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, the IAEA had been monitoring a reactor, a spent fuel pond, and a fuel fabrication facility in Yongbyon.

In late September, the reclusive communist country told the IAEA that it was planning to restart reprocessing and had inspectors remove seals and cameras.

North Korea’s actions are seen as a reaction to Washington’s reluctance in dropping the East Asian regime from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

The US insists Pyongyang should first agree to procedures to verify its nuclear declaration, allowing international inspectors to check claims made by Pyongyang about its nuclear programme.

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