ElBaradei Welcomes North Korea's Commitment On Nuclear Programme
Mohamed ElBaradei addressing the media. (Photo Credit: D. Calma/IAEA)
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has welcomed the commitment by the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) to abandon nuclear weapons, and rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Speaking to members of the international press corps in Vienna this morning, Dr. ElBaradei said he looked forward to IAEA inspectors returning to North Korea.
He said the Agency would conduct "the necessary inspections to assure ourselves that the nuclear weapons programme in the DPRK has been abandoned and that all nuclear activity in the DPRK is subjected to safeguards and dedicated for peaceful purposes."
Dr. ElBaradei comments follow a joint statement released today by six nations at talks in Beijing on North Korea´s nuclear programme. The statement gives a commitment to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, for which negotiations began in August 2003, between China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas.
"This is all very encouraging news," Dr. ElBaradei said. "It constitutes a balanced package in my view that addresses both the security needs of North Korea as well as the concerns of the international community about North Korea´s nuclear activities. It has been a long and complex process. The negotiation has been going on for more than two years but at the end negotiation pays," the IAEA Director General said.
When asked by reporters when IAEA inspectors would return, Dr. ElBaradei said a precise date was still to be fixed. However, the commitment was for North Korea to go back to inspections and the NPT at an early date.
"I certainly will be consulting with the DPRK, with the concerned parties and clearly the earlier we go back, the better. This is going to be a complex inspection process. We need again to reconstruct activities that have taken place since 2002, in fact even before 2002 because since 1993 we haven´t been able to perform comprehensive verification inspection in North Korea."
Dr. ElBaradei´s comments came before the opening of the Agency´s Board of Governors meeting this week. The Director General also briefed reporters on the Agency´s inspections in Iran, re-issuing his call for greater transparency. See Story Resources for a transcript of his remarks. Also see his statement to the Board.