P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has granted the U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the Yongbyon nuclear complex to monitor its “disablement.” Discontinued nearly a week ago, the disablement is being resumed under a political bargain, which North Korea struck with the U.S. on Saturday.

The Yongbyon complex is widely regarded as the nerve-centre of North Korea’s plutonium-based nuclear weapons programme and suspicions are rife about the country’s “secret” uranium-enrichment programme as well.

In the new turn of events in a protracted “drama” of North Korea’s denuclearisation, IAEA inspectors would first monitor the resumption of “the core discharge activities at the [Yongbyon] reactor,” according to the IAEA. Another key operation, in terms of the IAEA’s immediate checklist is the reinstallation of the surveillance mechanism at the reprocessing plant. These are just “ad hoc monitoring and verification arrangements.”

The resumption of “disablement” follows a recent decision by the U.S. to rescind its classification of North Korea as “a state-sponsor of terrorism.”

The “disablement” and “dismantlement” of the complex have been negotiated as sequential steps under the six-party process relating to North Korea’s denuclearisation.

Under a baseline principle being translated into action, North Korea would, at every step of denuclearisation, receive economic and humanitarian aid from its dialogue partners.