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Nuclear inspectors arrive in N. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea -- A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has arrived for its first official visit of a nuclear laboratory in North Korea.

Three senior inspectors from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday, and were scheduled to visit a nuclear facility at Nyongbyon.

Last November, North Korea agreed to allow the agency visit the site in a 'non-inspection' role -- a sign that Pyongyang was keen to resume normal relations with the IAEA.

North Korea pulled out of membership with the IAEA in 1994 and has been under pressure ever since to revive ties with the agency and allow inspection of its facilities.

The technical experts will visit Nyongbyon complex's isotope production laboratory, which Pyongyang says is used to develop materials for medical and industrial purposes.

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The IAEA has long campaigned for full inspection access to the site, which has been suspected of creating weapons grade plutonium.

It says that if North Korea opens the door for complete nuclear inspections, it would take at least three years to verify that all nuclear material had been declared to the IAEA.

Pyongyang has allowed some of the group's officials to be stationed permanently at the facility.

There, they would monitor an agreement that freezes nuclear facilities that could be converted to creating nuclear weapon components.

The IAEA team is expected to wrap up its visit of North Korean by Saturday.


• South urges N. Korea-U.S. dialogue
January 14, 2001

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