Nuclear Authority Says Visit to North Korea Now ‘Unlikely’

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 5:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it is now unlikely that it will send a delegation to North Korea, after Pyongyang stated it is no longer bound by an agreement with the United States not to test missiles and nuclear devices.

Spokeswoman Gill Tudor made the announcement late Tuesday, ending hopes for the visit for which IAEA officials began negotiating with North Korea in March.

Earlier in the day, Pyongyang rejected the United Nations Security Council's condemnation of its recent failed rocket launch. A U.S. State Department official, Mark Toner, said Friday's launch was part of a “pattern of bad behavior” that makes the actions of the reclusive communist nation difficult to predict.

North Korea vowed on Tuesday that it will continue trying to fire a long-range rocket into space to place what it said was a weather satellite into orbit.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry insisted that Pyongyang was within its legal rights when it launched the rocket last week. The rocket broke apart and fell into the Yellow Sea — prompting criticism from the United Nations, long-time North Korean ally China, the United States, Japan, and the European Union. Critics accused the North of using the satellite scenario as a cover for testing ballistic missile technology banned under United Nations resolutions.

Monday's unanimous U.N. Security Council condemnation included orders for its sanctions committee to tighten measures aimed at preventing North Korea from developing and exporting nuclear and missile technology. The statement said the council will respond accordingly to any further provocations by Pyongyang.

The North Korean rejection statement also accused the United States of breaking a deal reached earlier this year under which Washington agreed to supply massive shipments of emergency food aid to the impoverished North. In exchange, Pyongyang agreed to suspend its nuclear activities and to allow IAEA inspectors to re-enter the country to verify the suspension.

U.S. President Barack Obama said North Korea breached the agreement with the launch and said Washington would not supply food shipments at this time.

Japanese media reported Tuesday that Pyongyang has withdrawn its invitation to the inspectors in retaliation.

China has sought to restart multi-national negotiations with the North aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear activities.