The DPRK has taken further action today to disrupt the operation of IAEA safeguards equipment at the Nyongbyong site. Seals in the 5MW(e) reactor's spent fuel pond containing some 8,000 irradiated fuel rods have been removed by the DPRK, and the functioning of essential surveillance equipment has been impeded. "As the spent fuel contains a significant amount of plutonium, the DPRK's action is of great non proliferation concern and represents a further disruption of the IAEA's ability to apply safeguards in the DPRK", said the IAEA's Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei. "Such containment and surveillance equipment plays an essential role in allowing the IAEA to confirm under the Safeguards Agreement with the DPRK pursuant to the Non Proliferation Treaty that nuclear material in the fuel rods has not been diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices".
The Director General has been urging the DPRK over the last few weeks not to take any unilateral action, allow the implementation of IAEA surveillance and containment measures and agree to an early meeting to discuss how the IAEA can safeguard the facilities that were subject to a freeze under the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework as they become operational. ElBaradei said, "It is deplorable that the DPRK has not responded to repeated requests I have made to DPRK for an urgently needed discussion on safeguards issues in the DPRK in order for the DPRK to come into compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement."
Dr ElBaradei said that the Agency's Secretariat is continuing to monitor closely the situation and is apprising the Chairman of the Agency's Board of Governors and its members of the evolving situation.