The Bush administration called on North Korea again Tuesday to allow full international inspections of its nuclear sites. The State Department spokesman says such action is a "necessary and critical step" if Pyongyang is to reap the benefits of its 1994 framework accord with the United States.
The agreed framework would give North Korea two western-designed nuclear power plants and interim fuel oil supplies in exchange for shutting down a nuclear program suspected of having a weapons component. But plant construction is years behind schedule with Pyongyang Tuesday again blaming the United States for the delay.
At a briefing here, State Department Philip Reeker pointed out North Korea will have to open all its nuclear facilities to international inspections if the project is to go forward.
"The United States will continue to abide by the terms of the accord as long as North Korea does the same," he said. "And we've emphasized that it's critical for North Korea to begin cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and to meet all of its other obligations as stipulated in the agreed framework."
The Bush administration sent a U.S. diplomat to a concrete-pouring ceremony at the reactor site in North Korea last week despite the finger-pointing over who is responsible for the delays.