North Korea Approves Nuclear Safeguards Agreement
TOKYO (AP) _ North Korea’s parliament today ratified an agreement on opening its nuclear facilities to outside inspection, but attached a condition that no other nation threaten it with atomic arms, official news media said.
The provision likely was aimed at the United States, which has supported South Korea since the Korean peninsula was divided into communist north and capitalist south in 1945.
But the official Korean Central News Agency said Choe Hak Gun, North Korea’s minister of atomic energy industry, told the assembly that ″the main stumbling block″ to allowing international inspections had been removed.
He cited the U.S. pledge last year to remove nuclear warheads from rival South Korea and the announcement by South Korean President Roh Tae-woo in December that his nation was free of atomic weapons.
Choe said the United States was ″unable to ignore our just demand and broad world opinion any longer,″ according to the news report, which was monitored in Tokyo.
The agreement ratified by parliament is with the International Atomic Energy Agency, an organization of the United Nations.
Under the agreement, the agency will conduct inspections to ensure that North Korea complies with the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which is meant to check the spread of atomic weapons.
The North Korean news report quoted Cho as saying his nation ″will accept the nuclear inspection without delay.″ The report did not give a date.
The two Koreas recently signed accords on reconciliation and on banning nuclear weapons on the peninsula, but nuclear inspections has been an contentious issue.
U.S. and South Korean intelligence reports have suggested North Korea could be capable of producing nuclear weapons by next year. The north has denied any such capability or intention, but its delay in accepting inspections raised suspicions in South Korea, Japan and the West.
The agency quoted Choe as reiterating that North Korea had no intention of producing nuclear weapons. But he said North Korea would step up development of nuclear power to meet the nation’s energy needs.