UNITED NATIONS — North Korea called the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog "a marionette dancing to the tune" of hostile Western countries Wednesday, rejecting its information about the country's nuclear program as "grossly distorted" and based on "guesswork and fabrication."
North Korean Ambassador Kim Song delivered the rebuke at a U.N. General Assembly meeting where the International Atomic Energy Agency's executive director, Rafael Grossi, called Pyongyang's nuclear activities "deeply regrettable" and "a clear violation" of Security Council resolutions.
The IAEA has not had inspectors in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- North Korea's official name -- since Pyongyang expelled them in 2009. The agency said in a Sept. 1 report that it continues to prepare for inspectors to return should leader Kim Jong Un decide to re-admit them.
Grossi said the IAEA monitors North Korea's nuclear activities using satellite imagery and open source information, and he said "the agency is intensifying its readiness to play its essential role in verifying the DPRK's nuclear program."
Song accused the IAEA of lacking "impartiality and objectivity" as an international organization and being "no more than a political tool of the Western countries."
"This is our appraisal of the IAEA at present, as it was more than 20 years ago," he told the 193-member assembly.
"We left the IAEA long ago and have not forgotten its despicable acts of having sided with the hostile forces in their maneuvers to put pressure on us, raising `suspicions' about the DPRK's peaceful nuclear facilities earlier in the 1990s," Song said. "I'd like to make it clear once again that the DPRK will never have any business to deal with the IAEA so long as it runs short of impartiality and objectivity, the lifeline of its activities, and remains a marionette dancing to the tune of the hostile forces against the DPRK."
Grossi called on North Korea to comply with Security Council resolutions, cooperate with the nuclear agency, implement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, "and resolve all outstanding issues, especially those that have arisen during the absence of agency inspectors from the country."
It is known that North Korea has facilities to produce both plutonium and highly enriched uranium, two key ingredients to manufacture bombs, at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex north of the capital, Pyongyang.
In a report in September, the IAEA said there were no signs that North Korea had been reprocessing fuel from its main nuclear reactor into plutonium over the past year, but Pyongyang appeared to still be enriching uranium, which could potentially be used in a nuclear weapon.