UN inspectors banned from North Korean nuclear facility

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Yongbyon nuclear facility.
Image: Keith Luse.

North Korea has banned nuclear inspectors from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from inspecting its nuclear facility, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. This comes after N. Korean officials said the facility would begin to reprocess plutonium which could begin in as little as a week.

"From here on, the IAEA inspectors will have no further access to the reprocessing plant," said the U.N. in a statement on its website.

"The DPRK has also informed the IAEA inspectors that they plan to introduce nuclear material to the reprocessing plant in one week's time," added the statement. The U.N. finished removing their security seals and surveillance equipment from the plant on Thursday.

Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, has urged N. Korea to dismantle their facility and return to six-party talks, but Pyongyang has refused and no new talks are scheduled to take place.

"We strongly urge the North to reconsider these steps and come back immediately into compliance with its obligations," said Rice, referring to an agreement reached during the last round of six-party talks.

N. Korea restarted its nuclear program when the U.S. failed to follow through with its agreement to take North Korea off the national list of state-sponsored terrorism supporters.