Following Pyongyang’s request to remove United Nations monitors from the country, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency today said inspectors were needed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to ensure compliance with international safeguards.
"Together with the loss of cameras and seals, the departure of inspectors would practically bring to an end our ability to monitor DPRK's nuclear programme or assess its nature," Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a letter responding to Pyongyang’s correspondence earlier Friday. "This is one further step away from diffusing the crisis."
The Agency confirmed that Mr. ElBaradei had received a letter from Ri Je Son, Director General of the DPRK’s General Department of Atomic Energy, requesting the immediate removal of IAEA inspectors from the country in light of its decision to lift the "freeze" on its nuclear facilities.
In his letter in response, Mr. ElBaradei stressed that notwithstanding the lifting of the freeze under the 1994 Agreed Framework, the presence of inspectors was needed for the immediate installation of containment and surveillance measures. The continuing presence of inspectors was also needed during the loading of the reactor in Nyongbyong and during operation of the reprocessing plant.
Mr. ElBaradei said he expected that the DPRK Government would allow inspectors to remain in Nyongbyong and to install the necessary containment and surveillance equipment, such as seals and cameras.
The IAEA chief also asked Pyongyang to confirm urgently its concurrence with the requirements of the Safeguards Agreement, advising the authorities to inform him immediately should they have a contrary view so that, if necessary, arrangements could be made for the departure of the Agency’s inspectors.