The world is watching to see what North Korea does next, now that its nuclear complex is closed to outsiders. Tuesday the government in Pyongyang expelled two weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and disabled U.N. monitoring devices at the Yongbyon reactor. The IAEA now has no way of directly monitoring North Korea’s capability of producing weapons-grade fuel at the site.
The two arms inspectors arrived in Beijing, en route to their headquarters in Vienna. They had no comment to reporters. The inspectors are to submit their findings next week. There are reports that North Korea may have already produced at least one atomic bomb. Meanwhile, international reaction has been critical to hints by North Korea that it might pull out of a 1994 non-proliferation agreement. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Afanasiev.
“We’re strongly in favor of the non-nuclear status of Korea and the continuation of inter-Korean dialogue, so we can only express our regret over Pyongyang’s latest decision to expel experts from the country.”
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States intends to pursue non-violent means to resolve the conflict with North Korea.
“The United States has a full range of capabilities, political, economic, diplomatic and yes, military. But we are not trying to create a crisis atmosphere at this point by threatening North Korea.”
The U.S. has 37,000 soldiers stationed in South Korea. North Korea has the world’s third largest army, more than a million soldiers, and according to U.S. military intelligence, it also has chemical and biological weapons and missiles that could easily hit the South Korean capital, Seoul, just 48 kilometers away. But military experts say North Korea would be no match for the air and weapon superiority of the U.S. and South Korea, and that North Korea’s military has been weakened by the country’s economic collapse and shortage of food and fuel.