North Korea starts nuclear talks with IAEA
North Korea has begun talking to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about restarting nuclear inspections in the country, as part of Pyongyang's recent agreement with Washington, the Vienna-based agency said Thursday, dpa reported.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the country is officially named, last week invited the IAEA to hold such talks, the same day that it announced a controversial plan to test a missile.
?I can confirm that the agency has been discussing an invitation from the DPRK with parties concerned, including the DPRK and the United States,? IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.
The IAEA was consulting the US because of the risk that the issue of the missile test could unravel or halt the bilateral deal that foresees food aid in return for a freeze of North Korea's nuclear programme, diplomats said in Vienna.
Both sides had also agreed at the end of February that IAEA inspectors would monitor that freeze.
?If the US and the DPRK really go through a cooling period, how can the IAEA make sure it doesn't get in the middle of that,? one diplomat said, describing the IAEA's concerns.
Another diplomat said the IAEA also needed to ensure that whatever its inspectors were doing in North Korea conformed to both Washington's and Pyongyang's views of their agreement.
At this point, the nuclear agency and North Korean officials were holding preliminary discussions, to be followed by substantive negotiations on an inspection agreement, according to the diplomats.
North Korea kicked out IAEA inspectors in 2009, shortly before its second nuclear explosion test.