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North Korea invites international inspectors

20 march 2012, 14:54
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North Korea has invited the United Nations atomic watchdog to send inspectors to help implement a nuclear deal with the United States, AFP reports citing a senior Pyongyang official.

The North's chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong-Ho made the comments in Beijing on Monday evening, according to video footage of his remarks aired Tuesday by South Korea's KBS television.

Pyongyang's announcement Friday that it would launch a satellite next month has cast doubt on whether a US-North Korean nuclear deal agreed last month will go ahead.

But Ri's comments made it clear the North believes it is still in effect.

"Our position is that we will implement the DPRK (North Korea)-US agreement announced on February 29 to the full," Ri told journalists.

"In order to implement the agreement, we've sent a letter of invitation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) to send inspectors to our country."

KBS said he made the comments after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei.

"The satellite launch is one thing and the DPRK-US agreement is another," Ri said, urging the United States to carry out its part of the deal and deliver food aid.

The North agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, along with long-range missile launches and nuclear tests, in return for 240,000 tonnes of US food aid. It promised to readmit IAEA inspectors expelled three years ago.

The North insists a satellite launch is not a missile test. But the United States, Japan, Russia and other nations have called for it to scrap the plan, and even close ally China has expressed concern.

Washington and other nations say a satellite launch is a thinly disguised missile test and would breach UN resolutions as well as February's bilateral agreement.

The State Department has told the North that any launch would be a "deal-breaker" for the food aid agreement.

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