The US has warned North Korea to reconsider its moves to expel U.N. monitors from its nuclear plant and restart the facility. On Friday officials in Pyongyang said they were working to reactivate the Yongbyon reactor, which they had started to dismantle last November.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says three of its monitors have been denied access to the plutonium facility and have been forced to remove cameras they installed. North Korea pulled out of a disarmament-for-aid deal signed last year, saying it was angry at Washington for not taking it off its terrorism blacklist.
At a meeting in Vienna this week, the IAEA’s chief Mohamed El-Baradei said Korean officials told inspectors they could no longer access the plant. A White House spokesman has called the latest developments “very disappointing” and stressed the North must comply with its obligations.
South Korea has urged a return to talks on denuclearisation. The moves follow reports that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was seriously sick. South Korean intelligence has said he is recovering from a stroke. Other reports suggest the damage could impair his ability to govern.