North Korea grants IAEA access to nuclear shutdown


Vienna : North Korea agreed to grant inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wide access to verify the shutdown of its nuclear weapons programme.

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In a report circulated among IAEA member states Tuesday, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said the UN nuclear watchdog would have access to all facilities and equipment, paving the way for the shutdown agreed in the six-party agreement in February.

"The agency will have access to all facilities and equipment that have been shut down and/or sealed for the purpose of its monitoring and verification activities," the confidential paper said.

The IAEA would also be informed in advance on design changes in the facilities or of any plans by North Korea to remove equipment related to the shutdown.

Showing willingness to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, North Korea also agreed to the installation of "appropriate containment and surveillance and other devices to monitor and verify the status of the shutdown."

An IAEA delegation visiting North Korean nuclear facilities at Yongbyong last week negotiated the far-reaching "understanding" achieved between Pyongyang and the IAEA.

The IAEA board of governors is expected to approve the monitoring mission in a special session of its 35-nation board scheduled for July 9.

Member states already indicated that they were willing to carry the extra-budgetary costs of the IAEA inspection mission to North Korea, estimated around 1.7 million euros for 2007 and 2.2 million euros for 2008.