N. Korea Wants Surveillance Cameras Removed From Nuclear Facilities
July 7, 2008 - 8:12 PM
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - North Korea has formally asked the global nuclear watchdog to remove seals and monitoring cameras from its frozen nuclear facilities, which it plans to reactivate.
The request was received in a letter from Ri Je Son, the director general of North Korea's atomic energy department, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
It said North Korea planned to "resume operations of these facilities for power generation."
The letter confirms a statement Thursday by the North's foreign ministry, which blamed U.S. policy for its decision to restart the nuclear program, frozen in line with a 1994 deal with Washington called the Agreed Framework.
As part of that agreement, the U.S. undertook to provide North Korea with heavy fuel oil.
But the oil shipments were suspended last month, after the State Department said Pyongyang admitted reneging on Agreed Framework by embarking on a new uranium-enrichment program.
Thursday's foreign ministry statement said that because the oil shipments had ended, it had no choice but to reopen a mothballed power station and resume construction on two others that were left unfinished by the 1994 accord.
Also frozen under the agreement was a storage facility for spent fuel rods, which could provide weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear bombs.
All of the facilities have been under continuous and on-site IAEA monitoring since November 1994, but Pyongyang now wants some of the verification measures ended.
Responding to North Korea's letter notifying the IAEA of its plan to resume the program, the agency's director-general, Mohammed ElBaradei, urged Pyongyang to "act with restraint."
He said the seals and monitoring cameras should not be removed.
"It is essential that the containment and surveillance measures which are currently in place continue to be maintained, and that [North Korea] not take any steps unilaterally to remove or impede the functioning of such seals or cameras."
Doing so, ElBaradei warned, would violate the requirements of a "safeguards agreement" between North Korea and the agency.
He called on all parties to the Agreed Framework to "enter into a dialogue aimed at a resolution of the issue by peaceful means."
Since North Korea's October admission about the uranium-enrichment project, the U.S. has held out the prospect of reopening talks on condition Pyongyang immediately and verifiably ends its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
See related stories:
North Korean Nuclear Crisis Deepens (Dec. 12, 2002)
We Won't Bow To N. Korean Threats, Broken Promises, White House Says (Dec. 12, 2002)
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