Is North Korea set to come off US terror-sponsor list?
Report says it could happen today, but Japan opposes the plan.
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The Associated Press (AP) adds that North Korea had already barred IAEA inspectors from the plutonium processing areas of Yongbyon last month. North Korea used the Yongbyon reactor to create the fissile material for its nuclear weapons.Skip to next paragraph
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Thursday also saw a report from ABC News that North Korea may be preparing to test another nuclear bomb. North Korea's last nuclear test, on Oct. 9, 2006, spurred the six-nation talks that led to last year's nuclear disarmament agreement.
Satellite imagery over the past two weeks has picked up suspicious activity at a suspected nuclear test site, senior U.S. officials told ABC News. The activity includes tunneling and the movement of large cables – the same type of activity detected before North Korea's nuclear test in October 2006.
U.S. officials are unsure whether North Korea would actually test another bomb or whether this is simply saber rattling – or perhaps proton rattling – designed to put pressure on the U.S. to cave in on the nuclear talks.
"They know we look at this stuff," said one senior official. "It is quite possible they are just screwing with us."
Another senior official said the moves are likely a "negotiating tactic ... they do want to do a deal."
Concerns about North Korea's nuclear program are not limited to the parties involved in the six nation talks. The AP reports that earlier this week at a meeting of the IAEA, Israel "accused Pyongyang of being a black market supplier of conventional arms or nuclear technology to Middle East nations covertly trying to break out of the nonproliferation fold."
While [Israeli delegate David Danieli] did not name suspected culprit nations among the "at least half dozen" countries availing themselves of the North's help, he appeared to be referring in part to Iran and Syria, which are both under IAEA investigation.
Additionally, U.S. officials have said that North Korea's customer list for missiles or related components going back to the mid-1980s include Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The AP adds that during its meeting, the IAEA passed a resolution urging North Korea to live up to its pledge to halt its nuclear weapons program.