North Korea has reportedly refused entry to an energy consortium that wants to check the use of fuel oil it has supplied the country under a key nuclear accord with Washington. The move comes one day after North Korea said it considered that 1994 accord to be dead.
Pyongyang is reportedly barring international experts from checking the use of fuel oil supplied by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO, a U.S.-led group. This according to Japan's Kyodo News Service and diplomatic sources.
The oil monitors had expected to visit the North next week, to make sure the oil is properly stored and used at thermal power plants, as stipulated by Pyongyang's agreement with KEDO.
KEDO had been giving 500,000 tons a year of heavy fuel oil to the energy-starved North. But at the behest of Washington, KEDO decided last week to stop the deliveries, hoping to push the Communist nation to halt its nuclear weapons development program.
Pyongyang acknowledged the existence of the secret nuclear program to a U.S. envoy last month. The country has since come under heavy pressure from the United States, Japan and South Korea to abandon that program.
Under the 1994 deal with the United States, known as the Agreed Framework, North Korea vowed to freeze nuclear weapons development in exchange for energy aid, including the oil deliveries. On Thursday, the North said the U.S. had nullified the landmark agreement with the decision to cut off the deliveries.
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung urges both sides to cooperate and seek a compromise. He says North Korea must give up its nuclear program while the U.S. should guarantee the North's right to exist.
Mr. Kim's comments were echoed by South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun, who addressed journalists in Tokyo Friday. Mr. Jeong says he does not believe this is the end of the Agreed Framework. He asserts that neither North Korea nor the United States has clearly said this is the end of the pact.
Mr. Jeong characterized the North's latest statement as part of an ongoing psychological battle between Washington and the hard-line Stalinist nation. He said the North can no longer use the tactic of nuclear brinkmanship to win concessions from other nations, because it relies so heavily on foreign handouts of food and fuel.