Actions by DPR of Korea tantamount to ‘nuclear brinkmanship,’ IAEA chief says

Actions by DPR of Korea tantamount to ‘nuclear brinkmanship,’ IAEA chief says

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today said that the recent actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) towards restarting its reprocessing facility at Nyongbyong raised serious non-proliferation concerns and were tantamount to "nuclear brinkmanship."

"The reprocessing facility at Nyongbyong is irrelevant to the DPRK ability to produce electricity,” Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said. “The DPRK has no current legitimate peaceful use for plutonium, given the status of its nuclear fuel cycle.”

Over the past week, the DPRK has cut seals and impeded surveillance equipment at a total of three facilities at Nyongbyong: the 5-MWe reactor and the associated fuel pond, the reprocessing facility and the fuel fabrication plant. DPRK technicians have also begun preparatory work to restart the reactor.

Mr. ElBaradei said that the IAEA is about to issue a report on recent developments in the DPRK to the Agency’s Board of Governors, which is expected to meet in the first week of January to consider these developments.

In his report, the IAEA chief will say that recent unilateral actions by the DPRK have rendered the Agency unable to verify, pursuant to its safeguards agreement with the country, that there has been no diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

The Agency also remains unable to verify since 1993 that all nuclear material in the DPRK has been declared and submitted to IAEA safeguards.