IAEA Prepares for Return to Pyongyang

Previously banished watchdogs will monitor reactor shutdown
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2007 4:54 PM CDT
IAEA Prepares for Return to Pyongyang
International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director Olli Heinonen is mobbed by the media as he arrives in Beijing Saturday, June 30, 2007. North Korea has moved a step closer to fulfilling a promise to shutter its main nuclear reactor, after reaching an agreement with international monitors on how to...   (Associated Press)

The International Atomic Energy Association has approved its mission to North Korea, and could be inside the pariah nation this week, the BBC reports. Officials will oversee the closure of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, a major concession the north made in February in exchange for economic and energy aid which has already begun trickling in to Pyongyang.

Last week marked the first time since the country expelled inspectors in 2002 that Western watchdogs have set foot in Yongbyon, which the IAEA estimates is capable of producing one atomic bomb a year. Northern officials have promised the UN organization that it will have full access to the reactor and other facilities. (More North Korea stories.)

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