"This is a small but welcome step towards a return to full-fledged inspections required under North Korea's safeguards agreement," said Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA Director General.
Since 1993, the IAEA has been unable to fully implement its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the DPRK, and has been therefore unable to verify the completeness and correctness of the DPRK's initial 1992 declaration of its nuclear inventory. If it were to resume these inspections, the Agency estimates the work required to verify that all nuclear material in the DPRK had been declared to the Agency would take 3-4 years with full co-operation on the DPRK side.
In May 2001, the Agency proposed to the DPRK concrete steps that need to be carried out in that verification process, and indicated its readiness to start implementing these measures immediately. At a technical meeting between the DPRK and the Agency in Vienna in November 2001, the DPRK did not agree to promptly start to implement those proposals, citing the delay in implementation of the USA/DPRK Agreed Framework as the principal reason for declining. However, the DPRK did agree to a visit, not an inspection, by Agency inspectors to the Isotope Production Laboratory.
Pursuant to a UN Security Council request and in accordance with the "Agreed Framework" between the USA and the DPRK, the Agency has since November 1994 been monitoring the "freeze" of the DPRK's graphite moderated reactors and related facilities. It has also maintained a continuous inspector presence at the Nyongbyon site.