TOKYO – The International Atomic Energy Agency is ready to deploy its inspectors as soon as an agreement is reached to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, the agency’s head said on Thursday.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi is in Tokyo at the invitation of Japanese authorities to talk with them and review the process of dismantling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, among other activities.
In a meeting with a group of journalists in Tokyo, Grossi also referred to the steps that the United States is making to ensure that the Pyongyang regime ceases to be a regional and global threat on account of its nuclear weapons.
Grossi, who took over the leadership of the IAEA on Dec. 2, said that the UN agency was forced out of North Korea 11 years ago when the Pyongyang regime had conducted a nuclear test and was preparing for a second.
But for the last two years there have been signs of an easing of tensions owing to a rapprochement between North and South Korea as well as direct contact between the United States and the North.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have held three summits during that period with a view to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“Once the agreement is reached, we will be able to immediately deploy our inspectors,” Grossi said.
However, the situation will be very different than that of 11 years ago with “a different North Korea” as the Pyongyang regime has conducted six nuclear tests, is equipped with nuclear weapons and has a greater enrichment capacity than it had then, according to Grossi.
“We will face enormous challenges in terms of the inspection of the program,” added Grossi, who said that everything will depend on the type of agreement reached.
He added that earlier this month he visited Washington and had the opportunity to discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who asked him to maintain a high level of readiness to act when the time to verify the agreement comes.