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IAEA Inspection Team Makes Stealthy Entrance

Posted September. 19, 2004 21:52,   


The entrance procedure of the IAEA inspection team yesterday to perform the second round of inspection regarding South Korea’s nuclear test was kept secret, making it resemble a James Bond movie.

The team arrived at Incheon International Airport at around 11:35 a.m. Having acquired this information, journalists rushed to the airport, but the inspectors played dumb to a barrage of questions for about 40 minutes until they left the scene.

The investigation team was originally expected to fly directly to Seoul from somewhere in Europe, such as Vienna, Austria. The inspection team, headed by Finnish IAEA official Saukkonen Heikki Antero, entered Korea from Osaka, Japan, on flight KE 722.

When they were asked whether they were IAEA’s inspection team, they evaded the question, saying, “No, we do not know what that means.” When the veil was lifted, they showed extreme prudence regarding information security, replying, “We do not know” to every question. Inspectors stated, “No relevant information on the second inspection can be released. Everything will be explained through the IAEA’s spokesman.”

They even answered that they do not know about the schedule, the lodging, and the departure day, which is already known. In addition, when asked whether he was Finn, Saukkonen said that he was from the IAEA. He also said the team came by way of Osaka not to try to evade journalists but because there was no direct flight.

They brought with them seven to eight large boxes carrying inspection equipment. During the entry formalities, some luggage was checked through x-rays and some was unsealed. After the process, they exited through the eastern end of the airport, not through the formal exit. They left for Daejeon in a vehicle provided by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute at about 12:15 p.m.

In the meantime, it was reported that another inspector entered the country separately early yesterday. It was announced that the inspection team will leave Korea on Sept. 26 after completing their mission.

Ji-Wan Cha cha@donga.com