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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 08:52 GMT
N Korea warns UN nuclear agency
Aerial view of Yongbyon nuclear power station
Pyongyang says it is reactivating Yongbyon
North Korea has threatened to remove UN seals and surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities.

If the IAEA fails to expeditiously take measures to meet our request, we will take the necessary measures unilaterally

North Korean Department of Atomic Energy
On Saturday, for the second time in three days, Pyongyang wrote to the UN watchdog - the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - demanding that it remove the seals as soon as possible.

If the IAEA failed to meet its request, North Korea warned, the "necessary measures" would be taken unilaterally.

The communist state said on Thursday it intended to reactivate its nuclear programme, following a decision by the United States to suspend oil shipments to the country.

Under an agreement signed in 1994, Washington agreed to deliver oil to North Korea in exchange for Pyongyang's pledge to freeze its nuclear programme.

But the United States says North Korea has since admitted having a secret nuclear weapons programme.

UN appeal

After the first letter on Thursday, the IAEA urged North Korea not "to take any steps unilaterally to remove or impede the functioning of such seals or cameras".

South Korean rally against North Korea
Nuclear power?
  • May already have nuclear weapons
  • Could be months away from mass plutonium production
  • Has missiles with 2,000-km range

    See also:

  • "It is essential that the containment and surveillance measures which are currently in place continue to be maintained," IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei said.

    An agency spokeswoman said Mr ElBaradei would be sending the North Koreans another letter, spelling out his appeal more clearly.

    Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also appealed to Pyongyang to respect the safeguards on its nuclear programme.

    He said he hoped IAEA inspectors not be kicked out of the country.

    South Korean Red Cross officials have said they will discuss the issue with officials from the North on Monday, during talks originally meant to focus on family reunions and cross-border travel.

    Both Seoul and Tokyo have expressed concern over the Pyongyang's announcement that it will reactivate the plant at Yongbyon, mothballed under the 1994 agreement.

    Pyongyang says it needs nuclear power from the plant to make up for the electricity shortfall caused by the ending of US heavy oil shipments.

    Yongbyon: Site includes a 5-MWe experimental nuclear power reactor and a partially completed plutonium extraction facility. The US believes the reactor and extraction plant have been used to produce plutonium - possibly enough for 1 or 2 nuclear weapons. Activities at site frozen under 1994 Agreed Framework

    Taechon: 200-MWe nuclear power reactor - construction halted under Agreed Framework

    Pyongyang: Laboratory-scale "hot cells" that may have been used to extract small quantities of plutonium

    Kumho: Site of two 1,000-MWe light water reactors under construction by Kedo

    Nuclear tensions

    Inside North Korea

    Divided peninsula

    See also:

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