In response to an invitation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to visit the country for talks, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today that he is dispatching a team to Pyongyang next week.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei received a letter dated 16 June from the Director General of the country’s General Department of Atomic Energy Ri Je Son, in which he asked for an IAEA delegation to visit the capital to discuss how the agency could verification and monitor the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility.
In his letter to Mr. Ri today, Mr. ElBaradei said that an IAEA team headed by Olli Heinonen, the Deputy Director General for Safeguards, will travel to Pyongyang for talks.
Mr. ElBaradei visited DRPK in March to discuss plans for the country to get rid of nuclear weapons in what he called “the first step in a long process” toward normalizing relations with a country that ordered UN inspectors out more than four years ago.
Ever since the Asian country ordered IAEA inspectors out at the end of 2003 and formally withdrew from the NPT and its inspections and other safeguards of fuel diversion from energy generation to weapons production, top UN officials have repeatedly appealed to it to return to the fold.
In October, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the DPRK as well as individuals supporting its military programme and demanded that it cease its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction after it claimed to have carried out a nuclear test.