Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are to return to monitor and verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The move comes after Olli Heinonen, deputy director general for safeguards at the IAEA, visited Yongbyon, and reached an agreement on the modalities that need to be taken to shut down the four facilities there, with a view to an eventual abandonment.
IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei, commented: "This is the beginning of a long and complex process, but I welcome the return of the DPRK to the verification process.”
ElBaradei added that the IAEA should expect an invitation to return to the facilities in the next week or two and that the shutting down of the facilities should not take much more than a few days.
A restricted report on Monitoring and Verification in the DPRK, which outlines agreed arrangements for monitoring and verification by the IAEA of the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility and the reactor under construction in Taechon had already been circulated to the IAEA´s 35-member board by ElBaradei.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) Council of Ministers has authorised the European Commission to negotiate a renewal of Euratom’s agreement to supply nuclear technology to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO), which had funnelled equipment to North Korea prior to its development of nuclear weapons. However, further tangible cooperation is inconceivable without Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear arms.