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International nuclear inspectors leave North Korea

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Kyodo News/AP

(Read caption) US experts monitoring a nuclear plant in Yongbyon arrive at a hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday. The North ordered them to leave the country Tuesday after the UN Security Council condemned North Korea's April 5 rocket launch.

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – For the third time since they entered North Korea in 1992, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have switched off the cameras and stripped the seals from the locks on the five-megawatt reactor at North Korea’s nuclear complex at Yongbyon.

The three IAEA inspectors were then driven 60 miles south to Pyongyang, where they boarded planes Thursday to Beijing. North Korea ordered them out on Tuesday after the UN Security Council condemned the North for launching a long-range Taepodong-2 missile on April 5.

Their departure ended the latest era of hope that North Korea would abandon its nuclear program.

Almost simultaneously, South Korea is planning to join the Proliferation Security Initiative, a multination effort to stop shipment of nuclear materiel and technology to and from North Korea and other nations. “North Korea is one of the potential proliferators of weapons of mass destruction,” a South Korean foreign ministry official said Thursday. “Our decision to join PSI is firm and clear.”

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