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N. Korea to refuse IAEA inspectors: Japanese media

18 april 2012, 15:58
US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Kurt Campbell. ©AFP
US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Kurt Campbell. ©AFP
North Korea will refuse to let inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency examine its nuclear programme, AFP reports citing diplomatic sources.

Pyongyang said it was suspending talks over the return of IAEA inspectors in response to Washington's cancellation of promised food aid, Kyodo News said in a dispatch from Seoul, citing "a senior US State Department official".

The report did not name the official, but President Barack Obama's pointman on East Asia, Kurt Campbell, was in Seoul on Monday evening as part of a tour of the region following North Korea's failed rocket launch.

Under the much-trumpeted agreement reached in February, the US had promised thousands of tonnes of much-needed food aid for the impoverished state.

In exchange, Washington had extracted promises that Pyongyang would suspend enrichment of uranium at its Yongbyon plant and cancel nuclear and missile tests.

That agreement collapsed with Friday's launch of what North Korea insisted was a satellite, but what the US and its allies said was a barely disguised missile test.

"After the US and North Korea reached the deal (in February) the official said North Korea and IAEA 'entered into a serious discussion'," Kyodo reported.

"(The source) expressed the view that North Korea initially believed US food aid would be released even after the 'satellite' launch."

Separately, the Yomiuri Shimbun also said Pyongyang was to reject IAEA inspections.

Pyongyang's official media had said the hermit state would stick by its side of the bargain even after the rocket disintegrated in mid-air and plunged into the Yellow Sea and was now expected to claim Washington had reneged first, the Japanese paper said.

Abandoning the agreement means North Korea will not feel bound by its terms -- and makes it more likely it will pursue a third nuclear test, the paper cited sources as saying.

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