North Korea Hedges on Nuclear Sampling

By Peter Crail

In a further setback for currently stalled efforts to denuclearize North Korea, that country's foreign ministry issued a statement Nov. 13 denying that it had agreed to allow inspectors to conduct sampling at its nuclear sites when they take steps to verify Pyongyang's plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. The statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, said that the verification methods contained in a preliminary agreement between Washington and Pyongyang in October would be confined to "field visits, confirmation of documents, and interviews with technicians" and would only begin once North Korea received energy assistance promised last year.

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