N. Korea says no to sampling at nuclear sites
North Korea said Wednesday that it would not allow outside inspectors to collect samples at its main nuclear complex to verify its account of past activities.
Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it never agreed to such sampling, contradicting statements U.S. officials made last month after an agreement about how to verify the list of nuclear programs North Korea submitted in June under a disarmament pact.
The conflicting statements could be a new snag in the long, tortured process of nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula. North Korea has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons but has bickered with the U.S. over verification, with Washington insisting on strict measures to ensure that Pyongyang is not hiding any active program.
U.S. officials said last month that North Korea had agreed to allow experts to collect samples and conduct forensic tests at all of its declared nuclear facilities and at undeclared sites upon mutual consent.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the deal called only for letting inspectors visit its main nuclear complex, view related documents and interview scientists, and that collecting samples was never part of the deal.
Pyongyang also said that only its Yongbyon atomic complex was subject to verification and that inspections could take place only after it received all promised energy aid.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood contradicted North Korea’s claims that it never agreed to allow inspectors to take samples.
“We want everybody to adhere to their obligations,” he said.