Jeffrey LewisNorth Korea Tosses IAEA Inspectors

“North Korea has cut the seals and shuttered the cameras. Next up, North Korea tosses the inspectors,” I wrote yesterday in my blog post, Provisionally Delisting North Korea.

This morning, North Korea tossed the inspectors. Elaine Scolino reports this morning in the New York Times.

North Korea has barred international inspectors from its nuclear reprocessing plant and intends to begin introducing nuclear material to the plant in a week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday.

This all heading toward North Korea reprocessing the spent fuel from the Yongbyon and, eventually, conducting another nuclear test. It is also totally preventable if The Decider would just suck it up and delist North Korea — provisionally, of course.

Seriously, just reread yesterday’s post, or the modified version of which is cross-posted over at Danger Room.

Image note: The Times chose the same photo of Sig Hecker at Yongbyon that I did in April. Strangely, they credit it to AP — but I believe Keith Luse took the picture. The images are online. The image I chose for this post, though lacking Dr. Hecker, is more relevant — it actually shows a corner of the reprocessing facility with some equipment that I probably ought to recognize, but don’t.


  1. nad

    FWIW, the AP has all of Hecker’s trip report photos available on their website. Many of the have the “Special Instruction:” FEB. 14, 2008 PHOTO RELEASED BY AMERICAN RESEARCHERS WHO VISITED NORTH KOREA AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS PUBLICLY DISTRIBUTED HANDOUT PHOTO. THE COPYRIGHT IS OWNED BY A THIRD PARTY

  2. joel wit (History)

    Jeff: thanks for all the interesting coverage. Found ideas for solving this problem posted on the site yesterday interesting but silly. There is a basic fact here that few people seem to be getting. This isnt some kind of ploy or bargaining maneuver by the dprk. they have decided, based on the us not delisting them, that they are going their own way for the rest of this administration if not longer. that means restarting their reactor and also reprocessing as quickly as they can (maybe 2-3 months). Moreover, they are not doing this to deal with high-level nuclear waste. I was with Sig on that trip and in that meeting. we were talking about that as a possible cooperative project. and they still have to deal with it somehow. but their first priority is to produce more plutonium as quickly as possible.

    this isnt to say that negotiations will never start again. they could in a new administration depending on the mood of the North Koreans and the new administration’s approach to the dprk. but the north will once again be in a stronger position with a fully functional facility and another bombs worth of plutonium under their belts.

  3. nuc free korea (History)

    I agree with Joel with the caveat that this is a negotiating ploy to see what can be salvaged at this stage, but they are fully prepared to wait until the next Administration is willing to talk to them (probably some time around January of 2010). I do think they will prepare for a run up to a nuclear test, but may not do it if the climate is favorable. Of course, I have seen no expert opinion in the blogosphere on whether they could restart the reactor, with what is known in the open press I doubt it. It would be good to hear what the pundits think. Chris Hill seems to be resigned to this course as well (based on his and the spokesman’s comments) are only half-hearted attempts to counter the north’s rhetoric.

  4. joel wit (History)

    just a ps. my understanding is you cant delist DPRK provisionally. once you have said they do not support terrorism which is what the administration has said in moving this process to the 45 day limit, and taken them off, you cant put them back on without new proof of support for terrorists. thats what also makes this move by the administration so stupid. they have essentially admitted that the dprk doesnt support terrorists but we are going to keep them on the list anyway. North Koreans and others have pointed this out as exposing the real US intention in dealing with the North. I think that is right. Does anyone else have a different understanding?

  5. Ak Malten (History)

    As the story goes:

    If you give your word, but a not willing to keep it, do not be amazed if the other side finds out and act accordingly…

    It will be a hell of a job to revers what is now happening in North Korea, but sorry Bush and co, You asked for it !

    Ak Malten, Pro Peaceful Energy Use

  6. kme

    Well, it’s pretty clear from the way delisting is being used as a carrot unrelated to actual terrorist activity that the list should be renamed something like the “Countries Not Getting A Christmas Card List”.

  7. Gridlock (History)

    It’s a snow cone maker!