Pushing It to the Limit

Pyongyang plays games on nuclear inspection and heads closer to diplomatic meltdown with Washington

After a week of feints, fizzles and frustration, the U.S. seems to have averted a diplomatic meltdown -- at least temporarily -- in its escalating nuclear standoff with North Korea. First, Pyongyang exacerbated the 15-month dispute by beginning to remove plutonium-rich fuel rods from a nuclear reactor without monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency -- which could enable the North to acquire more plutonium for its suspected nuclear arms program. The move prompted the IAEA to issue an unusually blunt statement accusing Pyongyang of a "serious violation" of its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And that effectively catapulted the...

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