The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared on Monday that it is prepared to send nuclear weapons inspectors to North Korea, when and if the North Korea regime agrees to accept them. North Korea ejected IAEA inspectors from the country in 2009.
According to Japanese media, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said during a visit to Tokyo that his agency is “drawing up a plan for inspection and training” so it can be ready to send inspection teams as soon as North Korea signs a denuclearization deal.
Amano urged North Korea to readmit the inspectors in November, noting that without an IAEA presence on the ground, North Korean gestures toward disarmament such as partially dismantling the Yongbyon test site cannot be verified.
The always uncertain odds of international inspectors being allowed to visit North Korean nuclear sites apparently took a turn for the worse on Monday, as the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the U.S. State Department of “blocking the path to denuclearization forever” by imposing new sanctions against the regime.
Pyongyang’s ire appears to have been aroused by new U.S. sanctions against three high-ranking North Korean officials, including dictator Kim Jong-un’s right-hand man Choe Ryong-hae. The U.S. Treasury Department took the occasion of Human Rights Day on December 10 to sanction the three officials for their role in “brutal state-sponsored censorship activities, human rights violations and abuses, and other abuses in order to suppress and control the population.”