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Verification of North Korean Nuclear Program Must Meet International Standards

Jeong Jae Sung  |  2008-08-19 11:42
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While the North Korean nuclear issue is at a standstill due to a difference of opinion on the verification protocol between the U.S. and North Korea, the U.S. has emphasized the need for appropriate verification methods meeting international standards.

After a meeting to establish a verification plan in New York on the 15th, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill reiterated that the verification regime must meet international standards.

He emphasized that a complete verification plan was a precondition for removing North Korea from the list of states sponsors of terrorism.

North Korea received an initial plan for the verification from the U.S. at the meeting of the six party delegates last month, but has not yet responded to it specifically.

For over a week, both sides have been on hold, trying to find an agreement on the verification regime, even though the day when the U.S. was supposed to remove North Korea from its list of terrorism sponsoring states has drifted by.

In the midst of which, the U.S. has now emphasized the need for international standards for the verification. This is interpreted as the U.S. trying not to follow in the wake of the first North Korean nuclear crisis. However, it remains to be seen whether North Korea will respond to the U.S. intent.

Although North Korea signed the Safeguards Agreement in January 1992 and submitted an initial report on its nuclear facilities in May 1992, it did not declare two facilities in Yongbyon and refused a special onsite inspection by the IAEA. Then, in May 1993, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT and as a consequence the first North Korean nuclear crisis was caused.

Yoon Duk Min, a professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and Security, suggested that Onsite inspections should be guaranteed in order to collect samples from plutonium related facilities. If North Korea accepts this, the negotiations on verification will be completed.

Professor Yoon added that Considering that North Koreas withdrawal from the NPT, which followed the refusal to accept IAEA inspections, caused the first North Korean nuclear crisis, North Korea should accept requests corresponding to the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA [to complete the verification]. However, North Korea does not have any intent to hasten the verification issue when the U.S. presidential election is imminent.

A researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification Park Young Ho said that Hills comment meant that North Korea should accept IAEA inspections of the general nuclear facilities which IAEA conducts in its member states. Facilities that the IAEA designates, as well as those that North Korea may show of its own free will, should be included as targets of spot inspections.
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