North Korea has told the International Atomic Energy Agency to stop monitoring its nuclear facilities. This follows Pyongyang's announcement that it will reactivate its nuclear operations, which were mothballed under a 1994 agreement with Washington.
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Pyongyang requested that all seals and surveillance cameras be removed from North Korean nuclear facilities. The request followed the communist state's announcement Thursday that it would reactivate its nuclear reactors in order to generate electricity.
In response, the director general of the IAEA called on North Korea not to take unilateral action in such a delicate matter, and to keep his agency's surveillance system intact. The Vienna-based agency is responsible for monitoring nuclear programs worldwide on behalf of the United Nations.
Governments around the world also urged Pyongyang to think carefully before actually reactivating the reactors. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Japan would try to restart its stalled talks with North Korea in the wake of Pyongyang's announcement.
Japanese government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda said a continuing dialogue between Japan and North Korea is important in order to avoid a resumption of Pyongyang's nuclear program. He said the Japanese will continue to monitor North Korea's response.
North Korea's nuclear program was suspended under the so-called Agreed Framework, which Pyongyang signed with Washington in 1994. Under that agreement, Pyongyang promised to scrap its plutonium-enrichment program. In return, a U.S.-led consortium agreed to provide the North with regular supplies of fuel oil, and two light-water reactors to generate power.
After Pyongyang admitted it had secretly continued a nuclear-weapons program, despite the 1994 agreement, the consortium decided to suspend the fuel oil shipments. Pyongyang says it has been forced to reactivate its nuclear operations because it is running out of power.
The Director General of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, says the Agreed Framework is a crucial instrument for maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula. He called for all parties to resume dialogue aimed at resolving the issue peacefully.
Meanwhile, North Korean news agency report accuses the United States of "high-handed piracy" for boarding a North Korean ship carrying Scud missiles to Yemen. The report said Washington should apologize for its actions earlier this week and pay compensation for damage done to the ship and its crew.
Washington ordered the ship released after Yemen said it had purchased the missiles, and it was determined that the shipment did not violate international laws.