CBNNews.com - North Korea has banned inspectors from its reprocessing plant and intends to restart their nuclear program within a week, the chief U.N. nuclear inspector said Wednesday.
"The DPRK has. informed the IAEA inspectors that they plan to introduce nuclear material to the reprocessing plant in one week's time," Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency told IAEA board.
"IAEA inspectors will have no further access to the reprocessing plant," ElBaradei said.
The action by North Korea has U.S. diplomats expressing concern.
"North Korean moves to halt and reverse disablement. are unsettling," said Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA.
"The United States views this as a period in which it is especially important to work closely with all our partners in the six-party process to determine the best way forward," he added.
The IAEA has been monitoring the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, which were shut down and then sealed as part of a North Korean pledge to disable its nuclear program.
That move was meant to be a step toward diplomatic concessions and energy aid equivalent to 1 million tons of oil under a February 2007 deal with South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
But negotiations fell apart in mid-August when the U.S. refused to take North Korea off its list of states that sponsor terrorism until it accepts a plan to verify a declaration of its nuclear programs it submitted earlier.
North Korea refused to comply, arguing that verification was never part of the deal and threatening to withdraw from the pact if Washington continued to press them on the matter.
Experts say it would take about a year to restart the Yongbyon facilities after completely disabling it.
Source: The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times