sassa Posted November 22 Report Share Posted November 22 North Korea said to refuse entry to oil monitorsFri Nov 22, 5:09 AM ET By Teruaki Ueno TOKYO (Reuters) - In a move that could deepen its stand-off with the world community, North Korea is refusing entry to international experts charged with checking the use of fuel oil supplied by Washington, a diplomatic source said on Friday. The revelation of unpredictable North Korea's latest step comes at a time when Pyongyang faces intense pressure from countries around the world to abandon its nuclear arms programme. A diplomatic source in Tokyo said North Korea had told the Korean Peninsula Energy Organisation (KEDO), a U.S.-led international consortium in New York, that it would not allow fuel oil monitors to visit the isolated communist country. The source said North Korea clarified its position in a letter dated November 18 sent to KEDO headquarters in New York. Several experts from the consortium had been expected to visit North Korea next week to ensure that the fuel oil would be properly stored or used at thermal power plants. Following Pyongyang's admission that it operated a nuclear weapons programme, the United States, the European Union (news - web sites), South Korea and Japan, which make up KEDO's executive board, decided this month to suspend fuel oil shipments starting from December. But they agreed to deliver 42,500 tonnes of fuel oil to North Korea for November, which arrived in North Korea's western port of Nampo on Monday. "North Korea is taking this action as a countermeasure against what KEDO did," the source, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. Under the 1994 agreement with the United States, North Korea pledged to freeze its nuclear programme in exchange for energy aid in the form of 500,000 tonnes of fuel oil a year. The deal also required KEDO to build two light-water nuclear power reactors in North Korea that cannot easily be converted to produce weapons. Analysts have said the freeze on oil shipments could deal a serious blow to North Korea, which faces a chronic energy shortage, particularly ahead of its severe winter. Hideshi Takesada, a Korea expert at Japan's National Institute for Defence Studies, said it could also damage North Korea's munitions industry. "If fuel oil shipments stopped completely, it would severely affect thermal power plants in Sonbong on the eastern coast of North Korea where industrial complex and military-related industries are concentrated," he said. He added that North Korea had little option over the longer term but to abandon its nuclear programme. "North Korea is well aware that the United States holds military action as an option." OMINOUS SCENARIO North Korea said on Thursday, however, that the United States had nullified the landmark nuclear pact with the decision to cut oil supplies to Pyongyang. A statement issued by a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman called the oil cut-off -- which takes effect as the freezing North Korean winter sets in -- a "wanton violation" of the pledges of allied energy aid for North Korea. It asserted that the United States had broken the pact because the light-water reactor construction is behind schedule and because Washington had threatened Pyongyang by branding North Korea part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq. A diplomatic source with close ties to Pyongyang told Reuters last week that North Korea would probably expel foreign inspectors and prepare to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if the United States and its allies stopped oil deliveries. That would have echoes of the unpredictable communist state's actions that triggered a nuclear crisis almost a decade ago. In March 1993, North Korea said it was withdrawing from the NPT rather than submit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands for special site inspections of its suspected covert nuclear complex. But Pyongyang suspended the threatened pullout after crisis talks with the United States. The IAEA seals safeguard agreements with signatories of the NPT to enable experts to check that nuclear sites and materials are not used for military purposes. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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