IAEA Move a "Watering Down" Tactic

Kim Yong Hun  |  2010-12-20 18:14
CNN reported on Monday that North Korea has reached an agreement with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who is visiting North Korea now, to allow IAEA inspectors back in the country.

Wolf Blitzer, who is travelling with Richardson for CNN, reported that North Korea has expressed its willingness to allow IAEA inspectors to return to the Yongbyon nuclear facility. Pyongyang expelled the IAEA inspectors in April 2009, after announcing that it was leaving the Six-Party Talks and restarting its plutonium-based nuclear program.

The return of IAEA inspectors is one of the five measures demanded by South Korea, Japan and the United States as a condition for the resumption of talks formulated at the three-nation foreign ministers meeting on December 6th.

North Korea has also apparently agreed to establish a military hot line and a military committee consisting of representatives from both Koreas and the United States, as well as transferring nuclear fuel rods abroad.

Richardson, who arrived in Pyongyang via Beijing on December 16th, has met First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, Vice Foreign Minister Lee Yong Ho and General Park Lim Su, who is responsible for the DMZ, during his trip, which is a private mission at the invitation of Kim Gye Gwan.

The South Korean government, however, has moved to limit the importance of the reported North Korean offer.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kim Yeong Seon told reporters today, Most important for North Korean denuclearization is its true intention, and more specifically, its actions, adding, even if North Korea accepts IAEA inspectors, we must have an overall evaluation of the extent of the inspectors activities, access to various facilities and what North Koreas intention is.

North Korea has not officially confirmed the CNN report, and even if confirmed, it is the South Korean government stance that North Koreas intention should first be made clear through actions. Also, the apparent presence of a well developed uranium enrichment program in the country suggests that the North Korean offer lacks real meaning.

One anonymous high ranking South Korean government official suggested on December 16th, Even if North Korea accepts IAEA inspections, we will not respond to the request for talks while North Korea continues its nuclear developments, and added, If inspectors were to confirm that the nuclear facilities are progressing well, it would only be an amplifier of North Koreas behavior to the world.

Therefore, it is expected that North Koreas acceptance of IAEA inspectors will not lead to a resumption of talks.

Jeon Seong Hun, an analyst with the Korea Institute for National Unification, told The Daily NK today, For the inspectors to merely visit the facilities rather than revealing the nuclear materials is meaningless; this is a watering down tactic.

Jeon emphasized, Since North Korea is running centrifugal separators to enrich uranium, inspecting empty Yongbyon facilities cannot have any impact.
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