UN nuclear watchdog invited to visit North Korea

Yongbyon nuclear site in North Korea North Korea said last month it would allow UN nuclear inspectors into the country

North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator has confirmed UN nuclear inspectors have been invited to the country for the first time in three years.

Ri Yong-ho said the aim of the move was to implement a deal with the US.

The North last month agreed to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for food aid. It also agreed to allow UN inspectors in, the US said.

The invitation comes three months after Kim Jong-un came to power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

But North Korea's pledge to co-operate with the international community was thrown into doubt last week, when Pyongyang announced plans to launch what it called a rocket-mounted satellite.

The North said the launch - between 12 and 16 April - would mark the 100th birthday of its late Great Leader Kim Il-sung.

Any launch would be seen as violating UN Security Council resolutions, and the US has described the plans as "highly provocative".

'Nothing decided'

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the UN's nuclear watchdog - announced it had received the invitation from North Korea on Monday.

It said it would discuss the possible visit with Pyongyang and "other parties concerned".

"Nothing has been decided yet," IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The move was confirmed later by Mr Ri. Speaking in Beijing, he said: "In order to implement the agreement, we've sent a letter of invitation to the IAEA to send inspectors to our country."

It is unclear how much scope for inspections the IAEA would be given, the BBC's Bethany Bell in Vienna reports.

She adds that in the past North Korea has limited access to key sites.

Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors 10 years ago after a deal with the US unravelled.

In 2003, the secretive Communist state withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The inspectors were allowed back several years later - but were thrown out again in 2009.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    In a sad way its quite amusing. North Korea threatens to do something provocative unless the US gives them some more food/oil/money. Sadder still is how many westerners think this is entirely reasonable behaviour.

    On the plus side paying off North Korea works & is a cheap way to keep the peace. As Churchill said Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    As I have said before, the perfect solution all of Korea is that if North Korea and South Korea were to be united as the one country, This would bring peace and harmony and North Koreans would have the same freedom as South Koreans.
    The sooner this happens the better, nuclear weapons are just a sideshow

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    This is truly a rogue state and canot feed its own people due to the disastrous way the state is run. It spends a fortune on arms, the military and pursuing nuclear capability. We should not be providing any aid to it, food or otherwise. Just let it collapse

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    Letting the IAEA into North Korea in return for food aid is a worthwhile cause. Over the past ten years North Koreas nuclear intensions have been unclear. Even simple monitoring of this seemingly 'rogue' state would be benificial

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    My biggest issue with any of this debates on nuclear weapons is the arrogant attitude of the USA. What on Earth gives them the right to dictate who can and can't have nuclear weapons? It's absolute hyprocesy. I hate everything that arrogant country stands for!


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