ACCESSION NUMBER:223624 FILE ID:PX-582 DATE:04/10/92 1ITLE:(Following FS Material Not for Publication) (04/10/92) TEXT:*PXF582 04/10/92 * (Following FS Material Not for Publication) ATTN. SEOUL: NORTH KOREA ASSEMBLY BACKS ATOM PACT (Text: New York Times article) (680) On April 10, The New York Times News Service published the following article on page A3 by David E. Sanger under the headline, "NORTH KOREA ASSEMBLY BACKS ATOM PACT": (begin text) TOKYO -- After six years of delay, the North Korean Parliament ratified an agreement Thursday to allow international inspectors into nuclear installations, starting the clock on a 90-day deadline to open up the plants where the Communist government is believed to be developing atomic weapons. Parliament's action, reported Thursday by North Korea's official news agency, came with an assurance from Choe Hak-gun, the minister of Atomic Energy Industry, that his country will now "accept nuclear inspection without delay." Nonetheless, the agency said Parliament had attached a condition to approval, saying inspections would be permitted only if no other country threatened North Korea with nuclear attack. It was not clear whether that condition would be invoked to try to slow an initial survey of the country's nuclear apparatus. A senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, said Thursday that he believed that there would still be several roadblocks to overcome before inspectors are allowed to visit Yongbyon, the nuclear complex near Pyongyang, the capital. "We are still awaiting a complete list from North Korea of its facilities so that we can make the inspections," said the official, who said he was still fearful that North Korea might try to hide key nuclear installations. "If the list does not appear complete, then we can turn to the United Nations Security Council for help." The official said the Atomic Energy Agency "fully expects" to have the list by the end of May, in time for its next full meeting, which is scheduled for June. Hans Blix, the agency's chief, is expected to travel to North Korea in the next few months. North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty six years ago, but never approved an inspection plan for its nuclear installations. It long maintained that it would not allow inspection until the United States removed all its nuclear weapons from bases in South Korea. At the end of last year, Seoul announced that the American forces South Korea had done that and said its soil was nuclear-free. In recent months international pressure on North Korea has grown rapidly. Japan has refused to consider a restoration of diplomatic relations, much less deep economic ties, until North Korea dismantles its nuclear installations. Satellite evidence gathered by the United States and shared widely with its allies suggests that North Korea is near completion of a large nuclear fuel-reprocessing plant. When complete, the plant could produce weapons-grade plutonium, which in turn could then be fabricated into nuclear weapons. 1he size and configuration of the heavily guarded plants at Yongbyon suggest that most of the elements that President Kim Il-sung would need to assemble a bomb are in place. But little is known about North Korea's technical talents, and there is a raging debate in Washington -- pitting the State Department, the Defense Department and the intelligence agencies against one another -- over how much time is left before the first weapon is within reach. Recently Robert M. Gates, the director of central intelligence, told Congress that North Korea could produce a weapon in a number of months, but the more commonly accepted estimate is one to three years. North Korea has denied that it is trying to build weapons, arguing that the scare over a North Korean bomb is being fabricated by the Bush Administration. In its dispatch Thursday, Pyongyang's news service quoted Choe as reiterating that denial and saying North Korea simply planned to step up development of nuclear power plants. The Atomic Energy Agency's inspection would be separate from a series of inspections between North and South Korea that the two countries agreed to in principle in December. But talks on setting up those inspections have only sputtered along. (end text) (Preceding FS Material Not for Publication) NNNN .