Chronology of Key Events
(December 2002 - February 2003)
27, Thursday: IAEA Seeking to Verify Restart of Unsafeguarded Facility in North Korea. Reacting to news reports that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has restarted its nuclear reactor at Nyongbyong, the IAEA has deplored such moves and said restarting the "unsafeguarded" facility shows the country's disregard for its treaty obligations. "We are aware of press reports. We have observed through satellite imagery indications at the reactor. However, without inspectors on the ground, we are not in a position to verify whether the DPRK has restarted the reactor, though we are pursuing other technical means of independently determining the operating status of the facility," the Agency said. "However, if this is true, the IAEA deplores the operation of the DPRK's nuclear facilities without the presence of safeguards inspectors," the statement added. "Restarting this now unsafeguarded nuclear facility will further demonstrate the DPRK's disregard for its nuclear non-proliferation obligations." The Agency also said its 35-member Board of Governors has confirmed that Pyongyang's safeguards agreement with the IAEA remains "binding and in force." DG Interview [pdf] | German, Der Spiegel, 24 February 2003
19, Wednesday: UN Security Council Refers to Experts on North Korea Issue. The Security Council referred a letter from the IAEA on the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to its experts for further consultations before beginning any discussion of the matter, the President of the 15-nation body said. The letter transmitted the resolution adopted by the IAEA Board 12 February. Full Story
12, Wednesday: IAEA Board Refers North Korea Issue to Security Council. Members of the IAEA Board of Governors - which in recent months has adopted two resolutions on safeguards in North Korea - adopted a third resolution 12 February, sending the issue to the Security Council. IAEA Director General ElBaradei emphasized in his statement that the Agency remains committed to securing full compliance by North Korea of its safeguards agreement, which he said remains binding and in force. Board Resolution | IAEA Board Report, 22 January 2003 | DG Statement | DPRK Fact Sheet
10, Monday: IAEA Board to Meet on North Korea Issue. Members of the IAEA Board of Governors - which in recent months has adopted two resolutions on safeguards in North Korea - are scheduled to meet 12 February. The Board last met 6 January, following North Korea's decision to withdraw from the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and before the latest and ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue. Media Advisory | Board Action | DPRK Fact Sheet
3, Monday: IAEA Board to Convene Meeting on North Korea. The Chairman of the IAEA Board of Governors announced that on the basis of consultations, a meeting of the Board was called on 12 February 2003. The Board will discuss a report by the IAEA Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei on the implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement between the Agency and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Latest Media Advisory | DPRK Fact Sheet
22, Wednesday and 24, Friday: IAEA Board Consulting on North Korea Issue. Members of the IAEA Board of Governors - which in recent months has adopted two resolutions on safeguards in North Korea - are consulting on the question of taking up the matter again, with consensus emerging for a Board meeting in early February. The Board last met 6 January, following North Korea's decision to withdraw from the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and before the latest and ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue. Board Action | IAEA Board Report, 22 January 2003 | DPRK Fact Sheet
10, Friday: North Korea Notifies Security Council of NPT Withdrawal; UN Secretary-General Regrets Move. The Security Council received notification from North Korea of the country's withdrawal from the NPT. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he regretted the move and strongly urged Pyongyang to reconsider its decision. "While noting the denial by the DPRK of any intentions to acquire nuclear weapons, the Secretary-General stresses the importance of adhering to Treaties and their legal obligations in achieving international peace and security in accordance with international law," noted a UN statement. "He takes this opportunity to reiterate that the problems regarding DPRK's nuclear programme must be resolved through peaceful dialogue." The statement described the NPT as the lynchpin of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, " and with 188 States Parties is the most widely subscribed to multilateral treaty in this area." It also noted that no State Party has ever withdrawn from the accord in the 33 years since its entry into force. UN Report
10, Friday: IAEA Director General Urges DPRK to Reverse Decision, Calling it "Counterproductive". The IAEA issued a statement 10 January in connection with North Korea's stated withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). In the statement, IAEA Chief ElBaradei urged North Korea to "reverse its decision", which he said was "counterproductive" to ongoing efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. Press Release
10, Friday: DPRK Announcement on NPT Withdrawal. The IAEA is issuing a statement expected later today in connection with North Korea's stated withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The statement will be posted on WorldAtom, and electronically transmitted to all email subscribers, as soon as it is released. News Story | NPT Text | List of Parties | DPRK Fact Sheet | DG, US Secretary of State Powell, CNN | IAEA Chief at US Congress, CNN
8, Wednesday: Director General Emphasizes Urgency of North Korean Reply. In press interviews, IAEA Director General ElBaradei this week emphasized the importance of North Korea's prompt response to the resolution adopted by the Agency's governing board 6 January. He urged North Korea to cooperate fully with the IAEA and adopt a policy of "compliance, not defiance" to resolve concerns. Read Media Advisory
6, Monday: IAEA Board Adopts DPRK Resolution. The IAEA Board adopted a resolution that, among other points, deplored in the strongest terms the DPRK's unilateral actions and called upon the DPRK to cooperate "urgently and fully with the Agency" in its verification efforts. Board Resolution | Full Story | IAEA: Bigger Profile, Bigger Demands, New York Times | DG on "Nuclear Challenge", PBS, USA | DG Interview, CNN
3, Friday: IAEA Prepares for Board Meeting on North Korea. As the New Year opens, the Agency's 35-member governing board prepared to take up the issue of nuclear safeguards in North Korea. The Board meets 6 January for consideration of a report from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who recently spoke about the next steps. A press briefing is planned 6 January at IAEA headquarters. Media Advisory | Full Story
31, Tuesday: Inspectors Leave, IAEA Board Takes up North Korea Issue. IAEA inspectors have left North Korea, as the Agency's 35-member governing board takes up the issue of DPRK safeguards Read Press Release | DG Interviews, Washington Post/CNN
28, Saturday. IAEA Pulls Out DPRK Inspectors, Readies Board Report. IAEA inspectors in North Korea are leaving the country, the IAEA has confirmed. A full report on the DPRK situation is being prepared for consideration in early January by the IAEA Board of Governors, the 35-member policymaking body. Press Release
27, Friday, IAEA Responds to DPRK Request to Remove Inspectors.
- Today, IAEA Director General ElBaradei received a letter from Mr. Ri Je Son, Director General of the General Department of Atomic Energy of the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK), requesting the immediate removal of IAEA inspectors from DPRK in light their decision to lift the "freeze" on their nuclear facilities. Press Release
27, Friday: UN Secretary-General Urges Support to IAEA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his concern over the increasing tensions in the Korean Peninsula. He urged the North Korean Government to cooperate fully with the IAEA and not to undertake actions that could further complicate matters. He called on all parties concerned to make every effort to resolve the situation in accordance with international norms.
26, Thursday. IAEA Chief Cites DPRK "Nuclear Brinkmanship". IAEA Director General ElBaradei said that the DPRK's unilateral actions towards restarting its reprocessing facility raise "serious non-proliferation concerns and are tantamount to 'nuclear brinkmanship'." The IAEA 35-member policymaking body, the Board of Governors, is expected to meet on DPRK developments in early January 2003. Press Release
24, Tuesday. DPRK Continues Disruption of IAEA Safeguards Equipment. IAEA Director General ElBaradei reported that the DPRK has now disrupted safeguards equipment at three facilities at Nyongbyong, including the reprocessing facility. Two IAEA inspectors remain at the Nyongbyong site. The Director General is consulting with the Agency's Board on the "disturbing" situation. Press Release | IAEA Reports Safeguards Interference, CNN, 23 December 2002 | DG Interview, CNN, 23 December 2002
22, Sunday: DPRK Further Disrupts IAEA Safeguards Implementation. The DPRK took further action today to disrupt the operation of IAEA safeguards equipment at the Nyongbyong site. Read Press Release
21, Saturday: DPRK Interferes with IAEA Safeguards Equipment. The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei expressed "deep regret" at the DPRK's actions of December 21 to cut most of the seals and impede the functioning of surveillance equipment installed at the 5MW(e) reactor at Nyongbyong. Press Release
14, Saturday: IAEA Reiterates Call for Talks on Safeguards. IAEA Director General ElBaradei repeated his call for senior-level technical talks with the DPRK and agreement on required practical arrangements for safeguards. "It is essential for the purpose of the continuity of safeguards that the current containment and surveillance measures continue to be in place, and that the DPRK does not take any steps unilaterally to remove or impede the functioning of the seals or cameras," the Director General said in a letter to the DPRK. "Such actions would not be in compliance with the requirements of the Safeguards Agreement... I repeat the offer I made in my previous letter that senior experts meet in the coming days, in the DPRK or in Vienna, to discuss and agree on the required practical arrangements. Such a meeting is vitally important to understand your planned schedule for restarting operations of the facilities previously subject to the freeze, and to ensure that the necessary safeguards measures can be put in place without delay."
13, Friday: IAEA Chief Briefs Press. At an afternoon press briefing, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei addressed questions about North Korea, Iraq, and other issues. Full Story | Iraq, North Korea, Iran: Interview with DG, CNN
12, Thursday: IAEA Chief Calls For Restraint. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei urged North Korea to act with restraint concerning its decision to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities. Press Release
10, Tuesday: IAEA Chief Urges Compliance. Addressing a safeguards conference in Tokyo, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei called on North Korea to rethink its position and cooperate fully with Agency inspectors to verify its nuclear programme. Statement | Full Story
4, Wednesday: IAEA Responds to DPRK Letter. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei expressed the Agency's determination to fully implement IAEA safeguards in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), following receipt of a letter from the DPRK. The letter responded to a resolution adopted by the IAEA Board of Governors 29 November 2002. Statement