North Korea kicks out IAEA nuclear inspectors

April 15th, 2009 - 5:52 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, April 15 (DPA) North Korea told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Tuesday to stop monitoring its nuclear facilities and asked the agency’s inspectors to leave the country as it wants to restart its nuclear programme, IAEA spokesman
Marc Vidricaire said in Vienna.

“The inspectors have also been asked to leave the DPRK at the earliest possible time,” Vidricaire said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

IAEA inspectors are present in North Korea to monitor that the country’s nuclear installations remain dismantled and turned off, as mandated under the so-called six-party agreement between North and South Korea, the United States, Russia, China and Japan.

Pyongyang’s announcement came after Monday’s UN Security Council’s (UNSC’s) condemnation of a North Korean rocket launch. The country said earlier Tuesday that it would boycott international negotiations on ending its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea has informed the IAEA that it plans to reactivate all nuclear facilities, which include a reactor, a spent fuel storage site, and plants for making and reprocessing nuclear fuel for the reactor.

To that end, the Vienna-based agency should remove all cameras and seals from the Yongbyon nuclear site, the communist East Asian nation demanded.

The reprocessing plant was used in the past to make plutonium for the North Korean nuclear weapons programme. Under the 2005 six-party deal, North Korea agreed to eliminate this programme in return for better diplomatic ties and humanitarian aid.

Vidricaire told the DPA that he did not know how long it would take the inspectors to remove their equipment and leave North Korea.

It was the second time IAEA inspectors have been asked to stop their work within less than a year.

Last October, Pyongyang issued a similar message to the Vienna-based agency. But it reverted its decision only days later, after the United States said it would remove North Korea from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

Under the six-party agreement, IAEA inspectors are only allowed to monitor the so-called nuclear “freeze.” They have no mandate to investigate past activities at Yongbyon or probe the nuclear weapons programme.

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