North Korea set to start plutonium reprocessing

September 24th, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Sep 24 (DPA) North Korea has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to restart its plutonium reprocessing facility next week, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.Melissa Fleming also said that North Korea had informed the Vienna-based agency that “from here on the IAEA inspectors will have no further access to the reprocessing plant.”

On request from North Korea, IAEA inspectors completed removing seals and cameras Wednesday from the reprocessing facility, which has been used by the secretive communist state to make plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

IAEA inspectors will remain at the Yongbyon nuclear complex to monitor the freezing of the reactor and other nuclear facilities located there.

Although around 100 seals and 25 cameras were removed, the spent fuel rods from North Korea’s reactor, which will be reprocessed, are still under seal, a diplomat close to the IAEA said.

Pyongyang would have to issue a new request to the UN nuclear agency to unseal this nuclear material, he said.

North Korea agreed 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.

“North Korean moves to halt and reverse disablement and, most recently, remove IAEA seals and cameras from the reprocessing facility, are unsettling,” US Ambassador Gregory Schulte told the IAEA board of governors.

Pyongyang took its latest steps out of frustration that the US has not removed the country from its list of terrorism sponsors.

Washington insists that the East Asian nation first has to agree to a comprehensive nuclear verification protocol.

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