VIENNA : UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano expressed “great concern” on Thursday over reports that North Korea has built a state-of-the-art uranium enrichment facility.
“It was with great concern that I learned of recent reports about a new uranium enrichment facility, as well as the construction of a new light water reactor, in the DPRK,” or Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Amano said in his opening address to the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A US scientist recently revealed he had been shown a new uranium enrichment plant equipped with at least 1,000 centrifuges at the North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex outside the capital Pyongyang.
The news heightened international concern that North Korea – which has conducted two nuclear weapons tests – could produce highly-enriched weapons-grade uranium on top of the plutonium already in its possession.
IAEA inspectors have been barred from North Korea since they were ordered out of Yongbyon last year.
“To my regret, the agency has not had inspectors in the DPRK since April last year, and the DPRK has not permitted the agency to implement safeguards in the country since December 2002,” Amano said on Thursday.
“I urge the DPRK to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the (IAEA) general conference and of the (UN) Security Council. As the only multilateral organisation for nuclear verification, the IAEA has an essential role to play in verifying the DPRK's nuclear programme,” he said.
Channel News Asia