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 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 10:07 GMT
N Korea nuclear move condemned
Kumho nuclear installation
North Korea is threatening to wreck a key 1994 nuclear accord
South Korea has called on the international community to pressure North Korea to restore United Nations surveillance equipment at its nuclear facilities.

It comes after North Korea said it had begun removing seals and cameras installed at five sites, including a plant the UN believes was used to make weapons-grade plutonium.

It is regrettable and we are concerned about it

Japanese Government
"We will apply diplomatic pressure through close co-operation with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the international community so that North Korea takes measures for restoration," said South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shim Yoon-joe.

South Korean Foreign Minister Choi Sung-Hong discussed the crisis in a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mr Choi's office said.

The Japanese Government also voiced its concern, saying North Korea's actions were "regrettable".

Heightened tension

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the UN's nuclear watchdog - said North Korea had disabled monitoring devices at the Yongbyon research reactor.

An official of the International Atomic Energy Agency holds a surveillance camera
The cameras monitored compliance with the 1994 deal

Experts say the five-megawatt reactor was used to make plutonium capable of use in warheads before it was frozen in 1994 as part of an American-led deal to halt North Korea's alleged nuclear programme.

Correspondents say this latest admission that North Korea is openly breaking the terms of the 1994 weapons development agreement will further enflame what is an already strained relationship between North Korea and the world's only superpower.

In a speech in January, US President George W Bush described North Korea as belonging to an "axis of evil" of countries illegally developing weapons of mass destruction.

Nuclear ambition

The move by North Korea follows its decision earlier this month to reactivate its facilities.

It said it needed to increase its electricity production after the US decided to suspend oil aid to Pyongyang in October, following North Korea's alleged admission that it was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons option.

The IAEA voiced deep regret at Pyongyang's decision to reactivate its nuclear programme - which correspondents said effectively marked the end of the so-called "Agreed Framework" of 1994.

But Pyongyang blamed the agency for not adhering to its demands to remove the equipment earlier this month.

"The IAEA has not shown any positive attitude, whiling away time after proposing what it called working negotiations," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said.

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 one or two 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

  The BBC's Viv Robins
"Washington has grown increasingly mistrustful of North Korea"
  Mark Gwozdecky, International Atomic Energy Agency
"For us, this is deeply regrettable"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

See also:

15 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
11 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
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