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Statement by Governor Bill Richardson Saying North Koreans Followed Through With Commitment to Invite Nuclear Inspectors

June 16, 2007

SANTA FE -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson issued the following statement today saying he is pleased that North Korean leaders kept their promise to him to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the shutdown of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility.

"North Korean leaders followed through with the commitment they made to me and our bipartisan delegation in April," Governor Bill Richardson said. "We urged the North Korean negotiators to show good faith and publicly invite the IAEA inspectors to the DPRK immediately upon gaining access to their funds.

"While this is just one step in the process toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it is an important step forward," Governor Richardson said.

Governor Richardson received word from the North Koreans on Friday that they would issue a statement about the invitation of IAEA inspectors. North Korea's state news agency issued a statement earlier today that reported Director Ri Je-Son of the General Department of Atomic Energy sent a letter to the IAEA today to discuss the process regarding the "suspension of nuclear facilities at Yongbyon under the February 13 agreement."

Governor Richardson praised U.S. government officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley for the progress made in moving negotiations with North Korea forward.

During a bipartisan mission to Pyongyang in April, Governor Richardson and former Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi pressed North Korean leaders to shut down the reactor and put it under international monitoring. They were assured that as soon as frozen North Korean banking assets in Macao were made available, North Korea would immediately invite the IAEA to oversee the shutdown.

"I was pleased to join with Governor Richardson on this important mission to North Korea and to learn the IAEA inspectors have been invited back in to monitor the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. This is a positive step" said Principi.

During his mission to North Korea, Gov. Richardson also urged the North Koreans to reconvene the six party talks in order to discuss the next phase of disablement of the nuclear reactor and North Korea's obligation to declare an inventory of all nuclear activities.

Bill Richardson, Statement by Governor Bill Richardson Saying North Koreans Followed Through With Commitment to Invite Nuclear Inspectors Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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