N. Korea's nuke program left unsupervised
BEIJING, China (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspectors have arrived in Beijing after being expelled from North Korea, leaving behind an unmonitored nuclear program in a nation the United States has dubbed part of an "axis of evil."
The two inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency landed in Beijing around 9:40 a.m. (0140 GMT) aboard a Koryo Air commercial flight from Pyongyang.
Neither inspector would comment about the expulsion. They would only say they are soon returning to IAEA headquarters in Vienna.
"We are heading back to Vienna as soon as possible, and happy New Year," one of the inspectors told reporters at the airport.
North Korea announced last week it would reactivate the Yongbyon nuclear power plant, which is capable of producing enough weapons-grade plutonium to make two or three nuclear bombs per year, and then told the IAEA inspectors to leave the country.
Hours before the two inspectors were kicked out, South Korea's Prime Minister Kim Suk-soo told parliament his country may attempt direct talks with North Korea in an effort to get the North to abandon its nuclear program.
Over the weekend, the North Korean news agency KCNA carried a statement hinting North Korea was considering pulling out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, something it threatened to do in 1993.
A senior South Korean official said such a decision would be "unfortunate."
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the situation with North Korea is "not a crisis."
The North Koreans called again over the weekend for the United States to enter into "face to face" negotiations with Pyongyang over North Korea's nuclear program.
The United States has, so far, refused. Said Powell, "What we can't do is enter into a negotiation right away where we are appeasing them."
"North Korea has put themselves in this position," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said Monday. They "can change course and get themselves out of this position."
Powell said there were other means of putting pressure on the North Koreans and the United States is doing that.
"The president is keeping all of his options on the table, but we're leading with the diplomatic option," Powell told CNN.
But South Korea's Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun told the South Korean parliament economic pressure should be applied carefully on the North.
And South Korean President Kim Dae-jung expressed opposition to economic isolation of North Korea and vowed to push ahead with his own "sunshine policy."
"No policy of containment and isolation against communist countries has succeeded in history even during the Cold War era," chief presidential spokeswoman Park Sun-sook quoted Kim as saying at a Cabinet meeting.
Kim said his government will stay firm with its "sunshine policy" despite the communist North's recent moves to restart its nuclear plants.
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Bush labeled North Korea a member of the "axis of evil," along with Iraq and Iran.